When I was in Hong Kong, I was able to sock away money without feeling I had to be super conscience about how I was spending it. Yes, rents are atrociously high. Food and restaurants are expensive as well. But what saved me is the low tax rate – 15% on personal income.

I’ve now moved back to Canada, and I wonder how people get ahead here. Rents, at least in the Greater Toronto Area, have risen between 20-50% in the past four years since I left for Hong Kong in 2013. And home prices have nearly doubled! The price of food and transportation…they’re much higher than I remember. And then the biggest culprit – TAXES! Ouch.

But here’s what I do know. Regardless of what’s happening outside our control, we have to find clever ways to save for our future and for our retirement. You can and must control your financial destiny.

So, here’s my advice on a few ways to save for your retirement – even when money is tight!

Create a Budget

The first thing I tell the women I coach is they must get a handle on their money. Which means you should know where your money is coming from and where it’s going. You can’t fix what you can’t see!

So create a budget. Even if you hate it, do it for three months. You’ll be surprised at what you find. The neat thing about budgeting is that when you put effort into writing down your spending habits, your brain responds and will help you re-prioritise your spending or find areas where you can cut back.

Make sure to treat retirement savings as an expense and allocate funds towards it. A good rule of thumb is you want to be putting away 10-20% of your monthly income towards it.

You can read more on how to save more here.

Automate Savings

It’s called paying yourself first. A.K.A, prioritising your future security and life dreams first.

Most people will put away what’s left after what’s been spent, towards their financial goals including retirement. But they have it wrong.

By setting aside funds towards retirement (as mentioned above) and other goals like a home, vacation, children’s education etc. FIRST, you’ll ensure you’ll reach them.

So, automate your savings by having a percentage of your paycheque sent directly into a different savings account that you won’t touch. When it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind, and you will adjust your lifestyle accordingly. What you won’t do is spend endless energy tracking expenses to ensure you have a specific amount of savings. AND you won’t fight your willpower in reaching your planned goals!

Read more on paying yourself first here.

Take Advantage of Your Employer-Sponsored Plans

Count your blessings if your company offers this benefit. Your employer may be offering a company matching program where the employee (i.e. you) contributes a certain amount towards your retirement, and the employer matches it up to a certain amount.

This could be a defined benefit (DB) or defined contribution (DC) pension plan, or a group RRSP or Tax-Free Savings Account program if you’re in Canada. Or an MPF or CPF scheme if you’re in Hong Kong or Singapore, respectively.

It could be a program where your company offers shares or stock options.

The point is that it is FREE MONEY – and can be anywhere from 3-10%.

Yet so many people do not make the most of these benefits. It’s essentially turning down a 3-10% raise. Who would do that? Maybe you – unknowingly. Take the money and make it work towards your retirement savings. You’ll be glad you did.

Invest Your Savings

One of the most effective ways to build wealth for your retirement is by creating a well-diversified investment portfolio that’s in line with your risk tolerance and…you got it…INVEST.

The earlier you start, the more you can take advantage of the power of compounding. You work hard to earn money so why not earn money while you sleep?

“It’s not how much you invest but when you start investing that matters.”

Read more about why investing makes sense here.

Are you struggling with saving for retirement? Not sure how much you’ll need? With a few coaching sessions, I can help you get on track. Email me for a free consultation.