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3 Reasons Why Saving for Retirement Shouldn’t Be Scary

3 Reasons Why Saving for Retirement Shouldn’t Be Scary

Rent. Car payments. Student loans. There are plenty of reasons young adults are often stressed about money.

As a result, the thought of saving for retirement might seem laughable to some 20 to 30-somethings and downright scary to others. After all, the average Millennial has a hard time imagining a time when they won’t have student debt hanging over their head, let alone a time when they can leave the workforce. Plus, who wants to think about retirement when there’s so much life to live now?

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The truth is that saving for retirement shouldn’t be anxiety inducing at all. In fact, beginning your savings early will actually lead to a huge weight being lifted off of your shoulders in the long run. With that in mind, here are three reasons why you should stop worrying about saving for retirement and start doing it.

1. You can get free money with employer matching

If your job offers 401(k) eligibility, there’s a good chance they also offer some sort of employer matching or profit sharing. This is free money! However, in order to get that extra cash, you’ll probably have to contribute a certain amount yourself.

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When it comes to employer matching, every company is a little different. Some might match you dollar for dollar up to a certain amount, others might do 50 cents on the dollar, and still others might do a combination of the two. That’s why you’ll want to find out what the maximum percentage they’ll give you is and how you can obtain that amount. Then all you have to do is sign up.

Keep in mind that, while you’ll always be entitled to any money you put into your 401(k), your employer matching will likely be tied into what’s known as a vesting period. This could mean that you need to be with the company for more than X amount of years before you get to keep their contributions, or you might be able to keep a larger share with each passing year (20% after one year, 40% after two, etc.). Ultimately this could mean you lose out on some of the bonus money, but don’t let that dissuade you from opening an account in the first place.

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2. You can learn about investing

How much do you know about the stock market and investing in general? If you’re like most Millennials, then the answer is probably “not very much.” In fact, you might not even realize that, by having a 401(k) or IRA, there’s a good chance you’re already investing in the stock market.

Depending on the type of account your employer has or the type of IRA you open yourself, your contributions will likely be put into a mix of stocks, bonds, and securities. When you’re younger these investments can be more aggressive, which usually means a higher percentage of stocks that will fluctuate over time. Then as you get older, most people will move their balances into safer investments like bonds or money markets.

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While this process is mostly pretty hands-off, there is still a lot you can learn. For one, by watching your account (but not freaking out about the day-to-day ups and downs), you can see how stocks react to certain events, such as the Brexit or the presidential election. By taking an even closer look at your account, you can also learn about stock dividends and other terms you might have heard by turning on CNBC before the Shark Tank reruns came on. Ultimately this knowledge will come in handy should you decide to really up your investing game and buy stocks on your own.

3. You can watch your early savings grow into much more

The biggest reason to jump into retirement saving as soon as humanly possible is the amount of cash you’ll have saved up by the time you need it. By getting a head start on your contributions and taking advantage of compound interest, your small deposits will amount to a hefty sum that will carry you through the rest of your time on this planet. You’ve probably seen the TV commercial that demonstrates this idea using increasingly larger dominoes. While that’s not a bad comparison, looking at the actual numbers might do more to impress you.

According to hypothetical proposed by Business Insider, the difference between starting your retirement savings at 25 as opposed to 35 could mean you end up with double the amount of money when you reach 65. As they figure, if you started putting just $200 a month into an account with an average return of 6% at age of 25, you’d have just over $400,000 40 years later. However, doing the same starting at 35 would only result in about $200,000. Furthermore, the difference in principal contributed is only $24,000 ($96,000 since age 25 versus $72,000 since age 35). If this doesn’t get you to start thinking seriously about setting money aside for retirement now, I honestly don’t know what will.

Conclusion

When you’re in your 20s or early 30s, retirement is probably about the last thing on your mind. While it might seem strange, these are actually the years you want to not only be thinking about retirement but also start saving for it. Setting money aside for your later years doesn’t mean you’re getting old or that you’re wasting your youth — it just means you’d like to have some money to enjoy life after you’re done working. So what are you waiting for?

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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