This week, 18 October through 24 October 2015, is National Save for Retirement Week. Because I'm a little bit of a dork, I think this is super-fun! While the organizers have their own ideas about what National Save for Retirement Week should look like, I have a different idea: An entire week dedicated to thinking about retirement savings sounds like a great reason to spend the week writing about retirement issues. So, that's what I'm going to do. It also happens to be a busy news week, what with the debt ceiling situation, and my regular payday post, so things are going to be busy in the Paycheck Chronicles space. Or, more realistically, I'll make it two weeks worth of stuff instead of just one.
What Is National Save for Retirement Week?National Save for Retirement Week is "a national effort to raise public awareness about the importance of saving for retirement." It is designed to inform employees about the ways in which they can think about their personal retirement goals. Resources for employees include online calculators and short-format webinars on various topics.
I had mixed results with the calculators. The Small Change, Big Savings calculator let me figure out that just one $6 alcoholic beverage and one $7 lunch each year could equal $22,860 in savings over 20 years (and think about how much more it would really be since an alcoholic beverage around here is around $10, and so is lunch.) I'm not sure I was using the Savings Boost calculator correctly, because the answers the calculator was giving me didn't pass the "common sense math" test. The calculator I really wanted to use, the Fine Tune Your Savings calculator, seemed to have a bad link because clicking on it kept taking me to the Retirement withdrawal Planning calculator. That was OK, because I could play with how much income my retirement savings will provide, and how long that income will last. That was a little sobering! The calculator called "Fine Tune Your Distribution Plan" seemed to be mis-named to me, as it included great retirement savings calculator that showed how much income your retirement savings would create, and how it would work with Social Security and other sources of income to meet or not meet your desired retirement income targets. It also included a simple calculator that shows how various pre- and post-tax retirement savings deductions would impact your take home paycheck. Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed the Required Minimum Distributions calculator - I input some hypothetical situations, and the little graphic showed me how I would spend down my savings over time.
National Pack-A-Sack Lunch DayAnother feature of National Save For Retirement Week is National Pack-A-Sack Lunch Day on Wednesday, 21 October 2015. I am a huge proponent of packing lunches and snacks. My husband is great about this, and it saves our family a ton of money. I am terrible about this, and I know it is one of the biggest leaks in our budget. I used the calculators to figure that two $10 lunches a week is costing my family about $1,100 a year. Holy cannoli!
It is my plan to write this week about various aspects of retirement planning, especially as they apply to military families. Topics on my list include the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), Social Security, 401(k)s and similar accounts, and other types of retirement savings. We'll see how this all unfolds and whether I get to all these topics and still keep up with important issues as they arise and fight this sinus infection that is brewing in my head.
If you have questions for National Save for Retirement Week, leave them in the comments and I'll see what I can do to find answers.
In the series: