Retirement is an exciting time, and while some dentists are passionate about their jobs and want to hold on as long as they can, others are counting down the days until they can relax by the pool or on the golf course (or both!). Before you decide it is time to retire, you’ll need to take a serious look at your finances so you know if and when you’re ready. Here are a few ways to start saving, so you can take the leap to retire.

Start paying attention to how much you spend on a regular basis

You can’t really get started on your goals to retire until you know where your money is going and how much you are spending. Don’t lowball this number. If you do anything, make the number higher than you think it is. Be sure you factor in more than just an average month worth of expenses. You need to count vacations, car troubles that could pop up, and perhaps a hobby that you have always wanted to take up. So, if you want to learn how to go fly-fishing when you retire, find out the cost today and you’ll have it when you retire.

Keep a hard copy of this information and don’t try to calculate a months worth of expenses in your head. There are too many software programs that are simple to use that can help you keep track of your spending. When you use this technology, you might be amazed at where your money is going. Find a software program that fits your needs and take the time to learn how to use it.

Use what you spend today for future spending

If you are paying a mortgage today, but don’t expect to have that expense in the future, you should still factor it into your retirement savings. We can’t predict the future, or unexpected expenses that can occur. If you have a car payment today and it’s almost paid off, think of the cost of maintenance that can occur. The same goes for a home, because you never know when a new heat pump or AC unit will need to be replaced. The money you spend on your mortgage and vehicles today, can go towards expenses like these in the future.

Start saving today

A good rule of thumb is save twenty-five times your annual spending to have a secure portfolio for retirement. You can of course save more, or less, depending on when you plan on retiring. If you want to retire in your early fifties, you’ll need to save more. If you don’t plan on retiring until much later in life, then you can save a little less.

Add up all of your assets, minus the equity of the residents you plan on living in during retirement, and include that in your portfolio. Be wary that some investments you have now may not be the same in the future. Some will be more, and some investments might turn out to be less. These funds will be the beginning of your portfolio because you’ll be able to live off of them before you get into your savings.

We all have those days where we dream of bailing on work and doing whatever we want. Retirement gives us that freedom, but it's a lot more complicated than playing hooky on a beautiful day. In order to take advantage of that freedom, there's a lot of planning that has to happen. Set yourself up to 'play hooky' from work for years by setting up a solid plan now!