Step 1: Figure Out What You Want
Before you can plan for retirement, you have to make sure that you get clear on what it is that you want. This sounds simple, but it’s not always easy. If you are currently working, your employer may offer a retirement plan. Take some time to sit down with an advisor who can help you figure out if this is the right option for your situation or not. You might have access to a 401k or 457(b), which are tax-advantaged savings plans that allow employers to help employees save for their own retirements while offering additional benefits like matching contributions and vesting schedules. If your employer offers one of these types of plans, I highly recommend using them! Some employers will even match up to 6% of what employees put in each year! These are great options for anyone who has access to them! Of course there are other ways beyond an employer sponsored plan too. what I’ve learnt over the years is that it doesn’t matter what you end up choosing, but rather that you choose something and start saving for retirement while you are young! The main thing is to get started!
Step 2: Start Saving Now
When I was in college, I remember reading a quote from Warren Buffet: “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, just turn around and keep going.” It’s so true! The main thing about retirement planning is that it’s never too late. Even if your parents aren’t able to add money into your account every month anymore (like mine did when I was younger), there are other ways to save for retirement even without their help. You can contribute through your company’s 401(k) or other tax-advantaged plan or open up an individual retirement account (IRA). There are plenty of options out there, but the point is not where you invest but how much time do you put in each year. If investing money isn’t something that interests you, then consider starting a side hustle or working overtime at work instead of having fun on the weekends or going out with friends every night after work. All it takes is 20 minutes a day of intentional saving towards your future self! It doesn’t sound like much now because we’re so young and have lots going on in our lives right now, but trust me when I tell ya’ this. 20 minutes a day can make a world of difference in the future.
Step 3: Be Smart With Your Money
Once you’ve started saving, you have to be smart with your money while it’s just sitting there in your account. To do that, I recommend two things: First, pay yourself first by automatically transferring the same amount every month into your savings account. This is easier than manually having to write out checks or transfer funds each month, and it will help keep you on track without having to think about it! Second, invest wisely using low-fee index funds or ETFs (exchange traded funds). If you don’t know what these are exactly or why they matter so much when investing for retirement. When I was first investing, I spent a lot of time reading about the different types of funds and what they do exactly. It can be overwhelming at first, but all you really need to know is that low-fee index funds are the best option for your retirement. They are easy to understand, have almost no risk attached to them, have lower fees than other types of investments, and will help you achieve your long-term goals without getting fazed by short term market fluctuations.
Those are the three main points I wanted to cover in this post! Again, my number one tip is always just start saving whatever amount you can every month! The earlier that you start investing, the more compound interest will work in your favor later down the road. Investing has helped me so much over the years because it took away all of my stress about money. There were times when I was younger where I thought about what would happen if something happened in my life and stopped working tomorrow or stopped being able to work because of an injury or illness? Could I afford health insurance? Would I want full coverage since it’s so expensive for anyone who doesn’t get it through their employers? And how much money would we need in order for our family not be poor anymore? These were thoughts that constantly popped up when thinking about retirement planning as a kid back then! And now as an adult with a family and mortgage myself.
The best retirement planning advice I can give anyone is to start saving right now. No excuses, just start saving! And if you’re interested in learning more about how you can use low-fee index funds to invest for your future, then check out my post on How To Start Investing For Retirement.