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Everyone’s financial situation is different. Some may stretch each dollar to pay down debt, while others may have a lower income. That doesn’t mean saving for retirement or other savings goals is impossible. It simply means creating a solid plan and developing good money habits is necessary to set yourself up for future success.

In this blog, we’ll cover four tips to help anyone reach their retirement dreams.

Eject yourself from the paycheck-to-paycheck trap. Millennials make up the largest segment of young adults. Depending on age, they could be a few years into their career or clocked in close to 20. Despite the varying difference, over half have one thing in common—living paycheck-to-paycheck.

In a recent survey, 54% of Millennials said they’re living paycheck-to-paycheck. This means monthly expenses are equal to (or possibly more than) their monthly income. Getting stuck in this cycle could happen for a variety of reasons, but it doesn’t mean you can’t escape.

Resolving this situation can be done in a few ways. The two most significant factors are to either increase income or decrease expenses. You can put your financial situation into focus with a budget.

The ‘B’ word—budget. Before you can make any changes, you need to know exactly where your money is going each month by creating a budget. There are several budgeting styles available, including zero-based, paying yourself first, or 50-30-20.

Going old school with pen to paper could be a great option if it’s your first time budgeting. If you prefer a digital approach, you could use a spreadsheet or app. Searching “budget” in the app store could return a long list, so how do you decide? According to Nerdwallet, some of the best budgeting apps are PocketGuard, Mint (includes investing), and EveryDollar.

Regardless of which option you choose, what’s most important is that you stick to it.

Write down your long-term goals (not wishes). While dreaming of winning the lottery or inheriting a large sum of money would be nice, focus, determination, and a clear roadmap will likely set you up for success. Without one guiding you to the future, you could end up spinning your wheels.

The SMART method is a great tool to help you define your goals.

• Specific: Your goals should be concrete and detailed
• Measurable: Create a system to measure progress
• Attainable: Your goals should be realistic and achievable
• Relevant: Make goals that matter to you
• Time-bound: Keep yourself accountable with a timeline and milestones

There is no “one-size-fits-all” plan. According to a study of millionaires, nearly 70% made less than $100,000 per year. To hit their savings goals, they put in the work over several decades. Here are a few more retirement savings tips that fit into any sized budget.

• Take advantage of your company’s 401k plan and look at additional options.
Start early, even if it’s a small amount. If 10% of your monthly income would put your budget in a bind, elect for a smaller percentage.
• Set up automatic contributions from your paycheck and choose a percentage rather than a flat dollar amount. As your income increases, so will your contributions.
• Review and adjust your plan regularly. A plan that made sense in your 20’s may not make sense in 10, five, or even three years.

We are all unique, so the ideal plan is the one that works best for you. The tips above will get you started. Use what works and change what doesn’t. You can also seek guidance from an Advisor. Our CFS* Financial Advisor, Monaye Nelson-Morgan, can help you create a custom retirement plan. To get started, complete this form or contact Monaye at


*Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. The Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members.

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