8 ways to prepare for retirement

April is Financial Literacy month and that means it’s a great time to look at your budget and set some financial goals for the next year, and the next 20 years. Here are 8 things you can do to be better prepared for retirement — no matter where you’re at in life.

Automate everything.

The easiest and most effective way to save is automatically. Start by setting a goal for how much you would like to save each month. Then, set up a monthly transfer from your checking to your savings account. Most utility bills can be automated. You can also set up automatic payments for your credit card to avoid late fees.

Increase your DCP contribution.

If you have a DCP account with the state of Washington, consider increasing your monthly contribution amount by 1 or 2 percent. For example: if you’re currently contributing 3% of your salary, bump it up to 4%. Your future self will thank you. You can use the DCP calculator to see how much your contributions could grow. A small change can make a big difference over time.

Estimate your retirement benefit.

Even if you just started your career in public service, you can use the DRS Benefit Estimator tool to get an idea of your retirement income. This calculator will allow you to see a private preview of what your monthly income might look like. Log into your account and select ‘Benefit Estimator’ to see your estimate. Knowing how much you can expect for retirement can help you make more informed retirement plans early on in your career.

Read a finance book or listen to a money podcast.

The best way to reach your money goals is to hear what other people are doing. Find an interesting book, article or podcast about money.

Did you know DRS has a podcast? Fund Your Future with DRS is a new podcast created for public employees in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Episodes are released on a regular basis and focus on easy things you can do to understand your money and improve your finances. Listen now.

Talk about your finances.

Society often tells us that it’s impolite to talk about money. But in reality, asking advice or sharing money tips can open up new possibilities. Try having a conversation with your spouse, siblings, your kids, or your grandkids. Talk about what’s helped you in your financial journey and know that it’s ok not to have all the answers. The important part is that you both explore the topic together.

Know where you stand.

If you have any outstanding debt, take some time to know how much you owe — especially when it comes to credit cards. Write down what the APR (annual percentage rate) is for each credit card or loan. Generally, it’s a good idea to focus on paying down the debt of with the highest APR first.

Track your spending.

Seeing where your money is going can help you understand the bigger picture. If you already have a budget – great! Take a moment to review your expenses from last month and see if you want to make any changes to your purchases this month. Get started with the Voya budget calculator.

Set some financial goals.

Would you like to buy a house? Go on a cruise? Pay off your debts? Set short-term and long-term goals. Then, make a plan for how you’re going to meet those goals.

More resources:

Financial wellness video library from VOYA

America Saves – A nonprofit that encourages, and supports low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth.

DRS webinar schedule – Get information you can apply right now to plan for financial independence. Webinars are 30 to 60 minutes.

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