How Small Changes Can Make A Big Impact On Your Retirement Planning

By Albert Lalonde

Statistics related to retirement can be downright discouraging. About 45 percent of Americans say they worry every day or almost every day about saving enough money to retire, according to the Pew Research Center

Meanwhile, 28% of Americans in their 60s and 37 percent in their 50s have less than $50,000 in retirement savings, according to a TD Ameritrade survey. It can all seem overwhelming, especially these days with the impact coronavirus has had on the economy and on many people’s retirement savings. But in the midst of the gloom there remains hope because there are always small changes you can make with your financial planning that will have a big impact down the line when it comes to retirement. 

So, instead of throwing up your hands in despair, it’s important to stay positive and make continual financial improvements that will allow you to stay the course on your planning, and in the process ease any concerns and doubts you may harbor. 

Let’s take a look at a few ways to do that:

Start growing your money – now. 

Lottery winners are the rare exception, but most everyone else needs to count on a slow and steady savings and investing plan to achieve their financial goals. The sooner you start contributing to a 401(k), an IRA, or other investments, the more time you will have to grow that money into a tidy retirement nest egg. Ideally, if your employer offers a 401(k) match, then you should contribute enough to earn the full amount of that match. But if you don’t feel you can afford to do that right now, make sure you at least contribute something. Every little bit will help, and each year you can re-evaluate whether you are able to increase the percentage of your contribution. Once again, it’s the little things now that can make a big difference later. 

Preserve what you saved. 

Young people can take investment risks with a least a little impunity, knowing that if the market takes a tumble they have a few decades to recover. Those in or near retirement don’t have such luxuries. A big hit to your portfolio can be devastating in your later years, especially if you’re already starting to draw money from your savings to live on. Once again, a few minor adjustments are in order as you try to preserve what you have. Your financial professional should be able to help you here with asset-protection strategies and tax-efficient strategies. 

Be prepared for long-term care expenses. 

You might not be giving a lot of serious thought to long-term care, but you should since 48 percent of Americans who reach age 65 will require long-term care at some point during the remainder of their lives, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The cost of that care can bring even the sturdiest of portfolios to the edge of ruin. For example, the average annual cost of a private room in a nursing home is $102,200, according to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey. The average for an assisted-living facility is $48,612. So, another small shift in thinking to include long-term care in your retirement planning could pay major dividends to the overall health of your retirement portfolio.

No matter what the market conditions are, or what season of life you are in, you want to make sure that any changes you make – small or large – advance you toward your goal of a happy and secure retirement. 

Albert Lalonde, a financial planner and investment advisor representative, is the founder of Kaizen Financial Group (  Lalonde, a fiduciary, was inspired to enter the financial industry after watching his parents navigate their own retirement with no one to properly advise them. He has passed the Series 65 securities exam and holds an insurance and health license. Lalonde graduated from Montana State University, from which he earned two Bachelor of Arts degrees.