Savings: Does Your Desire to Save Match Your Reality?

“The only money that’s really yours is the money you spend.

Everything else goes to somebody else.”

Teddy Chafolious

Piggy Bank

That piggy bank we remember from childhood wasn’t just a place to store our birthday money and spare change: it was a lesson, a way our parents encouraged us to get into the habit of saving. Many parents even go so far as to deposit half of any monetary gifts their children receive directly into a savings account, just to drive the point home. Adults who took that lesson to heart might set up automatic deposits into long-term savings or retirement accounts from their paychecks every month – a modern mechanism for implementing this age-old lesson.

 

But the quote from Teddy Chafolious raises an important point: What are we saving FOR? Many new investors come to their financial advisors with a number in mind: “I want to save $1 million before I retire.” There’s even something of a fad among millennials who work as hard as they can, save as much as they can, and try to retire before age 50.

 

But why? After all, “you can’t take it with you.”

 

It’s important to have financial goals and committing to a regular savings plan is good first step towards achieving them. But if you treat your long-term financial planning as just a series of targets to hit, or numbers you have to drive up as much as possible, your return on investment is going to be a lot higher than your Return on Life – the feelings of happiness and fulfillment that your financial planning should provide you.

How much are Americans saving?

According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, Americans today are saving a lot less than they have in years past. Personal savings in the United States averaged 8.29 percent from 1959 until 2017. The rate for 2017 is hovering around 3 percent. Experts tie this historically low savings rate to increased household spending, which continues to outpace wage increases, and high levels of revolving debt, like credit cards.

Figures like these drive many people to the opposite end of the spectrum: they save as much as they possibly can, especially if they’re nearing retirement.

Finding balance.

We tend to think that the person saving more is doing a better job of managing his or her money than the person saving too little. But neither extreme is going to maximize your Return on Life. Spend too much enjoying the now, and you might end up having to work much longer than you want to – maybe even all the way through retirement. Save too much too early, and you and your family might miss out on the experiences that you deserve to enjoy with your hard-earned money: big family vacations, a new home, creature comforts, entertainment and culture that will enrich all of your lives.

Worse, new retirees who have spent their lives stuck in “savings mode” often have trouble transitioning to the reward mentality that should provide for a meaningful retirement. These retirees worry so much about running out of money that they often neglect their own wants and needs, to their emotional and physical detriment.

Reality check.

So how do you find that balance between enjoying today and preparing for tomorrow?

First, ask yourself if your rate of savings is in line with your reality. Are you saving so much that you’re not enjoying life as much as you could be? Or are you hovering around that 3 percent savings figure, telling yourself that you’re putting enough money away when you know, deep down, that you’re not?

Next, make an appointment with us to talk about your financial goals, and your vision for a dream retirement. Work together to find that saving/spending balance that’s going to align your savings with your reality, and hopefully, your goals and dreams. Find that sweet spot, and your money won’t just be numbers on a balance sheet. It will be yours.

 

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Saving for a Vacation Home: How Seniors Can Plan for the Financial End of Things

Vacation Home

Saving money for a vacation home can be difficult, and when you’re a senior on a fixed income, it can take some creative thinking to make sure you have the funds you need for the perfect getaway. Not only will you need to think about saving for a second mortgage, you’ll also need to consider the extra costs that you’ll incur from taxes and furnishing your new home. Then you’ll need to think about whether you want to turn your vacation home into a rental property when you’re not using it in order to recoup some of your investment.

A good financial plan begins with educating yourself about the real cost of a vacation home. Think about what it will take to make your dream a reality. Of course you’ll need money for the down payment, but you’ll also need funds to cover all the extra costs that come with a home, such as property taxes, utilities, HOA fees, and insurance, just to name a few. The location is a huge factor not only in cost, but in convenience, as the ideal vacation home is far enough away to be a “getaway” but close enough to your home that you can manage the upkeep.

Read on for some tips on how to plan for your vacation home and get everything you want out of it.

Location is key

The perfect vacation home means different things to different people. You may want something near the beach, near a ski resort, or in an area that has lots of restaurants nearby. You might want a home that fulfills needs for your health and well-being, such as a floor plan that works well for individuals with limited mobility. Take into consideration your lifestyle, your budget, and how often you’ll be using the home when you start your search, and gather some info on what the neighborhood is like as well.

Calculate well

Budgeting for something as big as a vacation home means doing some heavy planning. You need to make sure you’re familiar with all the rules of the area first, as some cities, homeowner associations, and resorts make their own set of laws when it comes to properties and amenities. Talk to a real estate agent and an accountant to get a good idea of what you’ll need to set aside.

Don’t forget the upkeep

Vacation homes often need updates when it comes to the kitchen and bathrooms, and these improvements can be pricey if you’re not careful with your budget and planning. One of the best ways to keep your home in good shape is to keep up with repairs and small changes rather than waiting to do them all at the same time. If you’re fairly close to your vacation home and can make a few trips a year for maintenance and upkeep, it will likely save you quite a bit of money in the long run. HomeAdvisor states that the average cost to remodel a kitchen is between $16,348 and $38,800, which is a big chunk of change. However, making green improvements, such as installing energy-efficient appliances or solar panels to the roof, can help you with tax credits as well as save you money on utilities every month, and that’s a great place to start with your budget.

Consider renting it out

While there are certainly downsides to renting out your vacation home, there are many upsides, too, including the fact that you’ll be getting extra income to help pay the mortgage. You’ll need to check and make sure this is an option before buying your home, as well as think about whether you’ll be available for emergencies should something go awry when the renters are in the home, but many vacation homeowners find this to be a great way to balance out the cost of the house.

Saving money for a vacation home starts with a solid plan, so make an effort to consider all your needs before you begin the process. Talk to your family about your plans and garner support and help from your loved ones to help make everything go smoothly.