I’m a firm believer that where there’s a will, there’s a way. Sometimes all you need is a little help finding your way or at least someone to point you in the right direction.  So if you are having trouble starting or keeping up with a plan to save for retirement, I have ways to save in such a manner that you won’t even realize you’re doing so.

Investing in real estate is a great way to have your cake and eat it too. But since you may end up living in your home throughout your retirement, it’s probably not a good idea to plan on using its equity to fund your retirement. A safer strategy would be to buy a separate property; for example, you could finance a vacation home. You’d get to enjoy the property during your working years, and if necessary, sell during retirement and use the proceeds to live on. Perhaps even better, a rental property could provide you with not only a saleable asset upon retirement, but additional income during your working years as well.

Typically, life insurance is used to provide money in the event of an unexpected or premature death.  But its significant tax advantages have made it an attractive tool to use for other goals as well.  Consider “investing” in a life insurance policy to help raise funds for your retirement.  One of my favorite strategies is to get a life insurance policy on a parent’s life.  Many years ago I purchased a $500,000 variable universal life insurance policy on my mother.  Of course, there are no guarantees, but I hope and expect that she will live a long life, and pass away around the time I am getting ready to retire. When that happens, I will get a check for $500,000, and it will be all tax-free.

When you invest, you purchase shares of stocks, mutual funds, limited partnerships, etc.  Buying appreciable collectibles is pretty much the same thing.  So if you are the type of person who is motivated by tangible items, why not use that to your advantage?  This works best if you can find something to collect which you are passionate about.  For example, if you are a wine connoisseur, perhaps you could start collecting rare wines.  But even if you can’t incorporate an existing hobby, think about gold bullion, gems, coins, fine art, antiques, etc.  Use your imagination.  Whatever you choose, remember that this is part of your retirement savings strategy, so be prepared to sell these items later on. Even more important, like most investments, there is risk involved.  There is no guarantee that whatever you collect will increase in value.  In addition, you may not be able to find someone to buy your items. So don’t bet the farm on this strategy.  Instead, use it to supplement your other strategies.

For me, it’s tough to part with my money once it’s in my checking account, and I certainly don’t like seeing my balance drop when checks clear.  So sometimes it’s just a matter of setting up a strategy that’s ‘out of sight and out of mind’.  If your employer offers payroll deduction, chances are you can take advantage of it to have money removed from your paycheck and sent to your investment portfolio before it’s ever in your hands.  In addition to your retirement plan through your employer, consider setting up a personal plan like a Roth IRA.

While we all have many important life goals, retirement is arguably one of the few (if not the only) that is not optional.  At some point in time most of us will be forced to retire for one reason or another and when the time comes, we’d better be ready.  We get one chance at saving for retirement.  So the best thing to do is to consult with an objective financial planning professional to discuss these ideas. Make sure you are doing what’s best for you.