John Grobe

I was traveling on February 8th and, while perusing my complimentary copy of USA Today, I noticed a graphic that said February 9th was “Fall Off the Wagon Day”. This is the day when the trend line for gym visits (on its downward trajectory) intersects with the trend line for fast food visits (on its upward trajectory). The source of the data was Foursquare, an organization that claims to have a 10 million person panel.

Whether or not the data is accurate and February 9th is the day when broken resolutions hit a certain level that represents falling off the wagon, it is true that many resolutions (New Year’s or otherwise) are broken within a month or two of their being made. I’m sure that one of the resolutions that is getting broken is that of saving for retirement.

Saving for retirement via the Thrift Savings Plan is a resolution that some of the readers of FEDweek’s TSP Investment Report made this year; either beginning to save or increasing the amount they set aside for their retirement in the TSP. The “wagon” of saving in the TSP is harder to fall off of than some other wagons. In order to implement our resolution of saving more, we have to take an action; the action of increasing our payroll deduction by a set percentage or dollar amount. Once we have done that, we would have to take another action (decreasing the amount we set aside) in order to fall off the wagon. Remember, “if you don’t see it, you don’t miss it” and refrain from undoing any of the positive changes you have made in retirement savings.

If you vowed to fund an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) this year and already sent off a couple of checks to the IRA custodian, it might be easy to stop now as the strength of the resolution wanes. Consider automating your IRA payments by setting up a direct debit from your checking account. $500 a month would have you reaching the IRA limit of $6,000 in twelve months.

Author David Bach wrote a book called The Automatic Millionaire, in which he posits that automating our savings by means of payroll deduction and direct debit is a great way of helping us meet our goals.

A couple of other exhortations on savings would be appropriate to list here. “Pay yourself first” – source unknown; and “live below your means” – a Google search led me to many sources for this quote, but it is the theme of the book The Millionaire Next Door by Stanley and Danko.

Stick with the program and don’t let yourself fall off the retirement savings wagon.