We hear a lot about the retirement crisis in America. With a decline in pension availability and concerns about the long-term viability of Social Security, the burden of saving for retirement rests squarely on the shoulders of individuals. According to EBRI, only 17 percent of American workers are very confident they will have enough for a comfortable retirement (see EBRI’s 2018 Retirement Confidence Survey).
One positive sign is that retirement planning remains the number one financial planning priority for the average person seeking financial coaching guidance. But when you’re burdened with student loan debt, credit card payments, or simply trying to pay the bills, retirement no longer becomes the top priority. The stark reality remains that at some point you will need to plan to reach a state of financial freedom in the future even if you are struggling to deal with financial stress in the present.
It can be quite frustrating to try to plan for retirement while dealing with day-to-day struggles. That is why I believe that we have more than just a retirement crisis in this country. We have a financial wellness issue and the path to financial independence requires major improvements in how we measure and improve our overall financial health. We don’t need more retirement planning education in America. We need more holistic financial wellness coaching programs to help attack the low sense of retirement preparedness.
Perhaps the best path to achieving authentic financial freedom is to not get bogged down with the frustrations that we aren’t doing enough to save for retirement and to do more to improve our own sense of financial well-being. This is especially important if you are already in your 40’s or 50’s and still trying to take control of your financial life. These best practice guidelines can help you focus on building a financial foundation to achieve a greater sense of financial wellness:
The core financial behaviors mentioned above are foundations of financial wellness. For those seeking other ways to bridge the retirement savings gap, there are several other strategies to consider. Here are a few ideas:
Be creative when seeking potential options if you are feeling behind with your retirement savings. Some of these ideas are a little more painful than others. Get started saving as soon as possible even if you may not be on track to meet your desired retirement income goals. In the meantime, the best strategy is to focus on improving your financial wellness because financial knowledge, behaviors, and money attitudes are directly linked to retirement preparedness.
I am constantly inspired by the courage and resiliency displayed by many so-called late savers who I have the privilege of working with on a regular basis. It may not feel like it at a time when financial stressors are still front and center in our lives, but some small steps now can yield huge rewards during retirement. Just don’t wait too late to explore ways to strengthen your financial wellness foundation while using some creativity to make your retirement plans a realistic possibility – even if you’re a little late getting started.
This article originally appeared at Forbes.com