If you’ve got an eye toward your golden years, you’re already ahead of the game. The earlier you begin to plan for retirement, the more you will be able to enjoy your time after leaving the work force. However, with competing financial interests such as debt, a mortgage, and daily expenses, how can you begin to save if you don’t have enough as it is? Here’s a road map to getting out of debt and on the path to saving more for retirement.

Plug the leak

Debt happens when you spend more money than you earn, so in order to achieve financial success, you’ll want to reverse the trend. That is, you want to figure out how to spend less than you earn. To do this, you’ll have to learn to live with the salary that you make. This includes leaving the credit cards at home so that you begin to make purchasing decisions based on the cash in your wallet instead of how much money you expect to have to pay it off. Shrinking your budget is the next step.

Examining your budget

Most get out of debt strategists make mention of expensive lattes when encouraging consumers to spend less. While spending that $5 a day isn’t helping you achieve your financial goals any faster, simply cutting out the coffee runs won’t put you on the path to saving.

Instead, try to do a complete financial overhaul. Make a list of all of your expenses for an entire week. Then, determine which of those expenses can be reduced instead of cut out completely. For example, going without coffee won’t make a big enough dent in your budget to get out of debt, but it will make you miserable. However, making coffee at home can lead to other money saving behaviors, such as packing your own lunch and eating in.

You can also use this strategy to save in other areas of your budget; bundle your home services like telephone, Internet and cable to get a better deal, for instance. And try negotiating with other service providers, like your insurance agent and your credit card company, to see if you qualify for any discounts or lower interest rates. When it comes to your home payments, use a mortgage calculator Canada to see how much faster you can pay off your house if you put some of these savings into your monthly payments.

Making it easier to save

You will also want to put away the rest of your savings so that you don’t sink them back into non-essential purchases. To make this easier, set up a savings account that you can transfer money into each month. Then, set up direct payment so that your paycheck is deposited into that savings account. Most banks only allow you to make one or two transfers from a savings account each month without penalty, so this will keep you from dipping into your funds for an impulse buy.

Building a solid savings account and eliminating debt happens one step at a time. However, if you do it consistently, you’ll be thanking yourself once it’s time to retire.