It is no secret that Americans have a tough time saving for retirement. This is particularly true of millennials. The Great Recession has delayed the beginning of well-paying careers for many 18 to 34 year olds. A recent Bankrate.com study showed that millennials fear running out of money in retirement, but if you are struggling to pay rent, make a car payment and pay off student debt, saving for retirement is not easy.
Yet if millennials want to ensure themselves comfortable “golden years,” then they have to start investing in their future now, today. Thinking, “I’ll start saving as soon as I get a raise,” or “I’ll start after at the beginning of the New Year” are surefire ways to never start saving. Before you know it you will be 60 years old and wondering how you are going to get through the next 30 years.
So where should you begin when it comes to retirement investing? Here a few tips to help.
Start Saving and Be Consistent
While you might not be able to invest a lot now, the important thing is to get started and then be consistent about contributing to whatever retirement vehicle you choose. Every dollar that you invest now will be worth much more by the time that you reach retirement age. As your salary increases over the years, then you can save more.
Sign Up for Your Employer’s Retirement Plan
If your employer offers a retirement plan, then sign up for it. It might be a 401(k) or a defined benefit plan or a profit-sharing plan or something else. Do some homework to know what the plan is so that you know its ins and outs. Most importantly, if your employer offers a matching contribution, then take it. This is free money that will add up over time.
Set Up a Roth IRA if Your Employer Does Not Offer a Retirement Plan
A Roth IRA is a retirement account that has you pay taxes on the money that you put into it and then lets you take money out tax-free when you turn age 59 and a half. This is a good option for people when they are in a lower tax bracket than they expect to be in when they retire. A Roth IRA is free to open.
Increase Your Contributions Every Time You Get a Raise
If your monthly paycheck goes up thanks to a raise or a new job, then increase the amount of money that you take out of if for retirement savings. The more money that you make, the more money that you should save.
Do Not Raid Your Retirement Accounts
As your account balance grows, it might be tempting to take some money out for a new smartphone, a new car or a vacation. Do not do it. Many retirement accounts have rules about when and how you can withdraw the money. There are also tax implications to consider. If you do not follow the rules, then you might incur a hefty penalty or pay more in taxes. A retirement account is for just that: retirement. Leave the money alone and let it grow until retirement time arrives.
Live Within Your Means
In a world where TV characters live in beautiful homes and Facebook friends are always vacationing somewhere fabulous, it is tempting to compete by buying things that you cannot really afford. This “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality is what gets a lot of people in financial trouble.
The best thing that you can do is live within your budget and take pride in knowing that you are planning for what really matters: a comfortable, financially secure retirement. When you reach your 60s, 70s, 80s and even 90s, then you will look back on your younger self and say, “Thank you.”