The following is a staff writer post from MikeS. He is a married father of 2. So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house. He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal.
That’s the question I started asking myself after reading this article. The article discusses how forgoing cable, average bill $80, could amount to a million dollars saved over the course of 50 years. So, naturally I began to think what I was willing to sacrifice in order to retire.
I think I would be hard pressed to cut any of my current expenses in order to increase my retirement savings. I currently contribute 7% to my 401k, 6% to a traditional 401k and 1% to a Roth 401k. My employer matches the 6% and kicks in an additional 2%. That’s a total of 15%. In addition to that, I began contributing to an HSA (health savings account) this year.
In total, between my contributions and my employer’s contribution, I am saving $6,550. I only anticipate needing around $3,000 to cover medical expenses this year, assuming this year was like last year. That means I might be saving an additional $3,500 or 3.7% of my salary. If I don’t need that money, I can save it for retirement.
So, given that background, I would have a hard time convincing my wife that we need to make sacrifices to save an extra $50 or $100 a month. Sure we could cut cable; our combined TV, phone and internet bill is $160 a month. Problem being, I enjoy having all of them. I am not willing to make the sacrifice in the present for the gain in the future. Now, if I wasn’t able to save nearly 20% of my salary, it would be a different story. I would be eliminating non-essential spending just so that I could save something. I have made some sacrifices that might not be readily apparent.
These sacrifices might not be visible at first glance, but they are what have allowed me to save what I do for retirement. One of the first is my cell phone. Both my wife and I have TracFones. It was a conscious decision on our part to keep our cell phone bill as low as possible. We have discussed someday getting a smart phone, but right now the extra expense just isn’t worth it in our eyes. We could easily spend $100 a month for the two of us, but that also means pulling that $100 from somewhere else.
We also do not take many vacations. I can count on one hand the number of trips that we have taken in the last 10 years. The reason for that was primarily driven by the purchase of a house and having children. But the reality was there was only so much money to go around. We needed to prioritize where our money went and vacations did not rank that high on the list. Another hidden sacrifice is my car; it’s going on 13-years old. Sure, I could go out tomorrow and buy a new car. However, since I don’t have enough saved to pay for the car in cash that would mean a loan. The payment for that loan would have to come from somewhere. The only place large enough would be my retirement savings. I don’t need a new car that badly.
I have run calculations that say I am on track to retire in my 60’s. I am comfortable with that. It is always possible that my mindset could change in the future. If that should happen, I know there are additional sacrifices that I could make or even additional income that I could pursue. What sacrifices have you made for your retirement? Are you on track to retire when you want too?