I recently began receiving a pension fund check from my very first job. It’s not a lot of money, but it has created a big disagreement with my husband.
I see it as a raise. With the extra check, I’m making more money, but since I still work, I see no need to spend it. My husband thinks because it’s not much money, I should just go ahead and enjoy it.
A pension fund check is supposed to be a good thing, right?
By the time we get older, our medical needs increase in frequency and cost. For most of us, Social Security won’t be enough to fund our later years, even for our most basic needs. And if you want a retirement that meets some of your wants as well as all your needs, it’s definitely going to take more than a government check.
I decided to treat my pension fund check as a pay raise that won’t change my current standard of living, but could change my future.
Eight ways to put a pension fund check to work:
- Save it: Send it to your savings account via direct deposit. This was my personal choice. I have other investments and funds, and since I am still working, I can afford to put the money into savings and just leave it alone. I consider the savings account my EF (Emergency Fund), to be used to cover bills if I lose my job.
- Invest it: You don’t need a six-figure bank account to do this. Save a few months of your pension fund check, and look for low-cost investments that allow you to buy stocks with as little as $25 per month.
- Start an HSA or FSA: Use the pension fund check to take a bite out of medical expenses with a Health Savings Account or a Flexible Spending Account. You cannot start either of these accounts once you are on Medicare, but until then, you can still put money aside, tax-free, for a wide range of health care services. There are a number of rules and limitations with both plans, so research both before you decide.
- Save for a trip: This takes the sting out of not spending it now, and saving the “extra” income means you don’t have to do without necessities in order to save for a vacation.
- Save for the kids and grandkids: Put the money aside as a wedding gift or new house fund for your children or a college education for the grandchildren.
- Invest in your home: Use the money to update and upgrade areas of your home that will make it safer for you as you age. This brochure gives details on some of the things you can add to adapt your current home to your future needs. You may also look to costly repairs, like a roof and plumbing, that will be hard to recover once you retire.
- Invest in higher education: If you don’t have a college degree, but always wanted one, this is a great way to invest in yourself. Or maybe you just want a few enrichment classes. Check with your local schools and get some bang for your pension fund buck by taking classes online (saves gas and travel time) or in the summer (shorter, more intensive classes, fewer students on campus and a smaller teacher-student ratio).
- Invest in a hobby: You’ve been promising to invest more time in your passion for photography, but you really want a new camera. You want to go back to mountain biking, but wow, the cost of bikes and gear! Or a small laptop or tablet, so you can write your blog anywhere.
Would you spend or save a pension check?