You’ve just left university and a half just embarked on your [first] career, the last thing you want to do is think about retirement – after all, you’ll spend the next decade or so paying off your student loans.
But if you really want to pursue a sustainable life, then you’ll need to start thinking about important financial milestones including retirement. The reasons are simple, costs keep going up, careers are becoming shorter, and we are expected to live longer, more active lives. As such, here are some tips on how to start saving for retirement in your 20’s.
1. There is no Time Like the Present
You only live once but this also means that you only have one chance to be prepared for your golden years. While it is difficult to comprehend what your life will look like 50 years from now, the reality is that you need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
One way to be prepared is to start saving – now. It doesn’t matter if it is only $50 per week, every penny counts and over time that modest contribution will grow into a sum which will help secure your future.
Still not convinced? Think of it this way, if you started with zero today and were able to put away $50 per week for 35 years, you’d end up with close to $170,000 and that’s only at an interest rate of 3 percent. Now, imagine you were able to average 8 percent over the same period? Then, you’d end up with close to $600,000 – that is some serious money.
2. Sign up for Your 401(k)
While the odds are that you won’t be working for the same company in 40 years that you are working for today, you should start participating in your 401(k) program at work. In fact, you shouldn’t just participate, you should maximize your employer’s matching contribution as this is free money.
If you are self-employed, then you should make the maximum contribution as this money will help to lower your tax bill and the contribution of the two will help your money to start working for you instead of the other way around. Beyond this, try to stay away from direct investments in stock, bonds, and mutual funds through your 401(k).
Instead, focus on putting your cash in an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF). Not only will the fees be lower, but your returns will be higher over the long run. Not convinced? Then check out this retirement advice from Warren Buffett.
One last thought, don’t turn your 401(k) investments into 40-years of torture as it shouldn’t be. Instead, try to find a balance between maximizing your savings and having enough money to live sustainably. Doing so will help you to reach your retirement savings goals while giving you the money you need for life.
3. Set up an Emergency Fund
Into every life, some rain must fall and while this might be difficult to comprehend, just look at what your parents or grandparents had to do to survive previous economic downturns. Sure, the economy is strong, but it has also been growing for nearly 10 years and as such we are probably due for a recession – even though unemployment is at a 50-year low.
It might not even be a recession which pushes you over the edge, something as simple a major car repair could through a monkey wrench into your financial plans. As such, you also want to start setting up a separate account which will serve as your “Emergency Fund”.
While this account does not need to grow to $50,000, you might want to set a goal of having at least two-to-three month’s salary available as this will help to you to overcome any setbacks which might come your way over the years.
4. Talk to Your Parent’s About Their Plans
This is something which none of us want to do, but the reality is that there will come a point in time when you will need to have this discussion with your parents. Given how important the topic is and the fact that they are already 20 or 30 years further down the road towards retirement, there is no time like the present.
If your parents aren’t completely prepared, then the key is not to panic. In fact, they still might have options including a reverse mortgage. Granted, your parents will need to be over 62, to begin with but they should also check the eligibility for seniors as required by reverse mortgage lenders.
Keep in mind, this is not the only option for the parents, but the key is to look at what they have done to this date and then find out what their long-term plans are. While you might face some pushback, keep in mind that you might end up having to take care of them down the road and this is all the more reason to make sure they are prepared.
If not, then you might have to adjust your retirement savings plan to for the possibility of caring for your parents in the future.