Home > Personal Finance > The Slacker’s Guide to Saving for Retirement

Comments 0 Comments
Advertiser Disclosure


Now more than ever, our lives are filled with competing obligations. Every day we divide our time between work, caring for our families and friends, volunteering, improving our educations, running errands and working out — among many other things. It can be exhausting!

At the end of the day, most of us just want to sit in front of the TV or our laptops and spend a little time unwinding while watching “Game of Thrones” or cat videos. I like to call the inner voice that tempts us to veg out in front of the latest “Scandal” episode or watch that 10th cat video our inner-Lazy Person. We spend so much time and energy fighting with that inner-Lazy Person to make more responsible use of our time. But what if we can harness the power of the Lazy Person when it comes to something as important and stress-inducing as saving for retirement?

The last thing most of us want to think about at the end of a long day is what happened in the stock market or what mutual funds we should buy next, but we often feel obligated to take control of our finances. After all, most of us know that even if we follow all the thrifty tips we can find, if we don’t invest our money we won’t have enough to retire on.

But retiring without adequate savings will be the unfortunate reality for many Americans. The Federal Reserve’s 2014 statistics showed that 31% of people had no money saved for retirement.

So, what if the simplest and most stress-free way to invest was also one of the best ways to invest your money? Who knew it could be smart to be lazy?

My Lazy-Person Epiphany

When I first started working, I wanted to put some of my savings into the stock market but I found that it took a significant amount of time and energy to learn how the stock market worked and to research stocks. During this period, I made some unfortunate investments and lost what was a significant amount of money for me at the time.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have gotten started investing in the stock market by investing in index funds. An index fund is a fund that owns stocks of companies listed within particular stock market indexes. These funds generally provide returns on your investment that keep pace with the average stock market return. Index funds are what I like to call the Lazy Person’s retirement savings vehicles, but they also might be the Smart Person’s retirement savings vehicles for the following reasons. Keep in mind that index funds may not be a smart investment for everyone, and you should consult with a financial adviser if you have any questions about how these investments work or the risks that come with them.

1. We’re More Likely to Take Action

When we perceive something to be difficult, we tend to put it off. The simpler we make something the more likely we are to do it. If we expect ourselves to put time and effort into painstakingly learning how the stock market works and then diligently researching individual stocks, we’re less likely to pause our cat videos and actually start our research.

2. Picking Stocks Is Difficult to Do Well

Successfully picking particular stocks often requires you spend a significant amount of time researching to be successful, and even then it’s not foolproof. Even people who pick stocks for a living can make bad calls. If you don’t know much about investing, this can be a huge barrier to actually getting started. The likelihood that an individual investor can beat the stock market is actually quite low.

3. You’re Automatically Diversified

Diversifying your investments is key because it helps you mitigate your risk. For example, if you invested only in tech stocks and the tech sector does poorly your entire investment portfolio would lose money simultaneously. If, however, you had some tech stocks, some energy stocks, and some consumer good stocks, one sector could perform poorly and not affect the overall return of your portfolio significantly. One of the upsides to index funds is that they automatically diversify your investments, which means that you don’t have to spend a lot of time picking stocks from diverse sectors.

How to Do It

You ca set up an automatic payment into your retirement or investment accounts to take one step out of the retirement saving process. Rather than having to make a contribution on a monthly or annual basis, set up a paycheck deduction or an automatic bank transfer into your retirement or investment accounts that you don’t have to think about or consciously remember to do. While you might have to consciously buy index funds every month or two if you can’t set up automatic purchases, you’re still making the saving aspect as easy as possible.

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team