Free for 90 days: Sign up now and get 90 days managed free after your first deposit. See offer details

Financial Planning

6 Things to Give Up to Boost Your Retirement Savings

When we think of saving for retirement many of us visualize a life of ramen noodles and nights in front of the TV. Saving ain’t sexy and we’re suffering because of it (56% of all workers say they have less than $25,000 in savings according to a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute).

Articles by Betterment Editors

By the Editorial Staff
Betterment Resource Center  |  Published: June 20, 2012

Giving up lattes may be the popular opinion on saving, but it’s also boring. And speaking from personal experience, self-denial mixed with boredom is a quick recipe for falling off the wagon.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that champagne taste is the way to go (when lemonade money is the only option), but simply hearing “you need to save more” is clearly not working.

There are certain things you just have to give up to boost your retirement budget (but lattes may not be one of them):

  1. Procrastinating: the longer you think about saving, the bigger the opportunity missed. The best thing you can do for your retirement savings is to get started. Give up procrastinating and just do it. Time and the magic of compound interest are on your side.
  2. Trying to keep up: Saving may not be all about self-denial but if you must have everything you will pay for it later. Make a list of the things you’re passionate about – travel, music, looking after family members – and prioritize those over things you care less about (yes – it might be that morning latte, but maybe it’s cable, or new clothes). Learn to say no to outings you can’t afford and save up for the ones you’d hate to miss. It’s all about balance.
  3. Your ego: The average investor underperforms the fund they invest in by half because they make investing mistakes, like trying to time the market (according to a report by Dalbar). Overconfidence bias is a trap for investors who think they can predict the next trend, or pre-empt the next market move. Investing in a diversified portfolio, and letting it marinate, is a tried and tested approach.
  4. Your reliance on willpower: the belief that weakness is the cause of all investing evils is a myth. Sure, it’s important to get some perspective on what you actually need – but an automated savings plan is far more powerful than relying on willpower alone. Set up auto deposit every paycheck so you pay your investment account first. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes.
  5. Your need for instant gratification: It’s important to understand the ups and downs of the market. When saving for the long term you will experience some volatility. Sometimes your return will look great; sometimes not so much. The important thing is that it’s there when you need it. Stop looking for instant gratification and understand this is a long-term journey.
  6. Budgets: Stop focusing on “budgets” and instead, think of your investments in terms of “buckets”. Visualize your future self-doing the things you love as motivation to save, and set tangible short-term goals like “Istanbul” or “a photography course”. It’s easier to save for something that excites you rather than focusing on an abstract goal like “saving” (according to the Wall Street Journal).

Recommended Content

View All Resources
Displaying Performance to Shape Better Investor Behavior

Displaying Performance to Shape Better Investor Behavior

Understanding your accounts’ performance can feel complicated. We’re advancing how we display performance to help answer your questions and make stronger investment decisions.

Top 3 Life Insurance Policy Riders to Consider

Top 3 Life Insurance Policy Riders to Consider

When shopping for a life insurance policy, you can pick from additional riders and features. Find out which ones Haven Life believes are most crucial to help protect you and your family.

How Does Betterment Calculate Investment Returns?

How Does Betterment Calculate Investment Returns?

Understanding and using time-weighted and money-weighted returns within your Betterment dashboard.

Explore your first goal

Safety Net

This is a great place to start—an emergency fund for life's unplanned hiccups. A safety net is a conservative portfolio.


Whether it's a long way off or just around the corner, we'll help you save for the retirement you deserve.

General Investing

If you want to invest and build wealth over time, then this is the goal for you. This is an excellent goal type for unknown future needs or money you plan to pass to future generations.

Smart Saver

You could earn 20X more than a typical savings account with our low-risk investing account for your extra cash.

How would you like to get started?

Your first step toward a smarter investing future starts here.

Create a Betterment account

Go ahead and join the smart, modern way to invest.

See what we can do for you

Tell us a bit about yourself, and we'll show you the benefits of investing with us.

Get a free investing checkup

Help us get a sense of your investing approach and see how you could improve.

Transfer a 401(k) or an IRA

Move an existing retirement account into a Betterment IRA.

Download the mobile app

Enjoy the Betterment experience anywhere on the go.


Search our site

For more information and disclosures about the Betterment Resource Center, click here. | See our contributors.