Why investing in Whitbread plc and Marks and Spencer Group plc could lead to a comfortable retirement

Yesterday morning, a report by charity Independent Age estimated that almost 1m over–75s could be living in poverty. This statistic highlights why, if circumstances allow, it’s important to start your investing journey early, even if retirement is decades away. While a balance should be struck between enjoying yourself now and acting prudently for the future, it’s always good to look into where you can save money. The more you save, the more you can invest. The more of the latter, the greater your chances of building an enviable pot to smooth the transition from employee to retiree.

Skip the coffee, buy the company

Your morning pick-me-up from Costa Coffee may put a spring in your step but over a typical month, this indulgence will cost you up to £57.50 if we assume it’s roughly £2.50 per cup. Over a year, that’s just under £700. That’s a lot to give away in exchange for a quick caffeine fix. There may be a better option. Why not buy the company rather than its coffee?

Costa Coffee is owned by Whitbread (LSE:WTB), the UK’s largest restaurant, hotel and coffee shop operator. In addition to drinking its beverages, you may well have contributed to its profits by staying at a Premier Inn or by tucking into a burger at a Beefeater Grill. 

Now could be a perfect time to invest in this £7bn cap. Fears surrounding the introduction of the National Living Wage and its impact on earnings, along with the departure of its popular CEO Andy Harrison, have led many investors to dump the shares over the last year. They’ve now fallen from 5,290p in May 2015 to a current price of 3,914p.  Despite having solid plans for future growth, the company’s shares now trade on a P/E of under 18.

Remember that £700? Investing this amount just once and not touching it for 20 years would give you £1,534, assuming an average annual return of 4%. It gets better. Whitbread also pays a rather tasty (and growing) yield to its loyal shareholders. Right now, this stands at 2.31%, easily covered by earnings. Reinvesting your payout back into the company could generate even bigger returns for your portfolio. Imagine if you invested that £700 every year for 20 years and reinvested your dividends. Still craving that coffee now?

Pack a lunch, save a fortune

Over lunch today, you may be tempted to visit a branch of Marks and Spencer (LSE:MKS) for one of its salads. Again, investing in the company rather than spending on its products may be a wise move. Few would question the quality of Marks and Spencer’s food offering. Why not profit from consumers’ brand loyalty?

M&S shares are currently at 423p, giving a forecast rolling P/E ratio of just under 12. That’s pretty cheap for such a well-regarded company (as far as its food is concerned). And the yield? Even higher than Whitbread’s at 4.3%, covered almost 1.5 times by earnings.  

Skipping your regular coffee and preparing lunch at home may seem a lot to ask, especially if your time is limited.  However, investing in large, robust companies with fairly predictable earnings for the long term is better for your wealth. And when the time to swap your daily commute for trips to the golf course does come, you can either sell your investments or continue holding them for their income.

Investing for the long term is all part of the Motley Fool's philosophy. Regularly buying shares in high quality companies is an excellent strategy for those concerned about funding their twilight years. That's why the team has produced a free report detailing 5 shares to retire on.

Click here for your no obligation report.

Paul Summers does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. Motley Fool does not have any position in the shares mentioned. We fools don’t all hold the same views but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.