Many young people don’t think about starting a retirement fund because retirement is decades away. However, in order not to overwhelm yourself when you’re older, it’s a sound idea to start saving now. You can start small, so that your savings will grow over time. You can also start to increase your savings as your income increases. Follow these tips to secure your financial future.
Know Your Retirement Needs
The first thing to know about retirement is that it’s expensive. But don’t worry too much, because for young adults, it’s still quite far away. However, this doesn’t mean that you avoid saving now. You need at least 70 percent of your pre-retirement income to maintain your standard of living when you stop working.
To set benchmarks of what that amount will look like, you should save one times your current salary by the time you’re age 35. By the time you’re 45 you should save three times your current salary, and by the time you’re 55, you should save five times your current salary. You should have eight times your ending salary by the time you retire.
Start Contributing to Your Retirement Fund Now
Even if you still have debt you’re paying off, like student loans, it’s important to start saving for retirement. Young people should be saving for retirement simultaneously with paying down debt. It may seem impossible, but your secure financial future is just as important as becoming debt free.
See if your company has a 401(k) plan. Most employers pay 50 cents for every dollar you put toward your retirement savings, up to the first six percent of your salary. It’s a 50 percent return. Money in 401(k) or IRA benefits from a lifetime of tax-free compounding.
If your company doesn’t have a retirement fund, use a Roth IRA, instead. You fund it with the money that’s already been taxed as part of your normal paycheck, but when you withdraw it later, it’s tax-free.
Find Ways to Save
Find small ways to save money and budget for your current income. Little lifestyle changes, like making coffee at home instead of getting a cup of coffee at a coffee shop can save you almost $100 a month. When you bring your own lunch to work, you save almost $10 a day. Look to create a budget that will regulate your spending in different categories, including food, entertainment, gas, utilities, rent, and so on.
If you’re paying off student loans, opt for income-based repayment of your federal student loans instead of a standard plan. It can help — if you make $50,000 and owe $30,00, for example, you’d reduce payments by $68 a month.
Don’t Overwhelm Yourself
For savings and retirement fund contributions, start small. Contribute a modest amount and then increase yearly, and as your income increases. Start by contributing three percent of your salary, then bump it up by a percentage point a year until you’re up to the recommended savings rate of 10 percent.
Invest in Stocks, Bonds, and Annuities
Investments are a smart way to make money on your money. Stocks typically grow at an annual clip of 10.4 percent, while bonds historically return 5.4 percent a year. Be aggressive and put 90 percent of your investments in stocks, interchangeably referred to as equities.
Hedge against risk of loss by diversifying your investments to own as many different types of stocks as possible. Life-cycle mutual funds make it easy for novice savers to buy a diversified array of stocks that are tailored to their age and retirement goals.
There are other retirement specific investments to look into as well. Annuities are financial products sold by financial institutions designed to accept and grow funds from an individual. Upon annuization, the annuity pays out a stream of payments to the individual at a later point in time (usually retirement). They’re used to secure a steady cash flow for an individual during retirement. To calculate possible annuity amounts, use the annuity calculator.
Hybrid annuities are becoming increasingly popular. In essence, hybrid annuities are insurance contracts where buyers can use fixed and variable annuity components to allocate funds. They’re a fixed index annuity with one of the newer, more innovative income riders. They resolve the concerns about asset growth and retirement income, like long-term care funding or wealth transfer to heirs, while still providing the owner with a secure income.
Retiring doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming if you start saving early. Don’t end your career depending on social security to support you. Continue your standard of living well into your older years, and enjoy your retirement.
Money's not everything, just enjoy life anyway: 31 Things To Do When You Have No MoneyFeatured photo credit: Senior Couple Enjoying Sunset at the Beach via Shutterstock