The average recent college grad has thousands of dollars in student loan debt and wages are stagnant as rents and property values continue to soar. So how can you, as a millennial, make sure you’re prepared for your future in the face of these challenges? Read on for advice from retirees who have lived and learned through the process.
It can often feel like the Boomers made out like bandits in comparison to what you’re facing. But actually, the defined-benefit pension plans enjoyed largely by the Greatest Generation are going the way of MySpace. In fact, AARP estimates that 48% of Boomers can expect to keep working through retirement since their retirement savings are not on par with living expenses. So what can you do to avoid the same outcome? We turned to retirees to find out, and here’s what they had to say:
Start saving as early as possible:
39% of recent retirees said that they should’ve started saving much earlier in their lives and don’t want to see their children repeat this mistake. Irrespective of generation, we always prioritize immediate expenses, and it never feels like “the right time” to start saving. Suddenly years pass since you last thought about it. The right time is now – because the longer you wait, the less you will have when it’s time to retire.
Be proactive and don’t be afraid to start small:
While it’s easy to say you’ll get to it later, it’s critical to prioritize your future – even when you’re on a tight budget. If you don’t have access to a 401k plan through work, you can open up a self-managed IRA. If you don’t have a lot of extra money, start by contributing a small amount per month – just 2-3% of your income. To simplify the process, set up automatic transfers from your checking account that process each time you get paid. Remember, even smaller contributions will add up over time- your future self will thank you!
Get creative with your money-saving techniques:
There are lots of ways to make small changes to your budget that really add up over time. For example, you can use coupons when you grocery shop or skip your weekly lunches out or Starbucks runs. Add up the money you save throughout the week and put it into your IRA. You can also use tax refunds or garage sale proceeds to bolster your savings. With a little creativity, the money you set aside will add up fast.
Take advantage of employer matches:
If your employer offers a 401k match program, you’re lucky and you should take advantage of it! Put simply, this is the closest thing to free money you can possibly get. Find out what you need to do and how your employer is willing to match. Then, contribute at least the maximum match amount to build your savings a lot more quickly.
Don’t overcomplicate your investments:
If you’ve never dreamed of a life on wall street or if trying to decipher stock data overwhelms you, don’t worry! There’s a solution that’s perfect for novice investors and retirement fund account holders. Index funds and retirement portfolios allow you to invest in many diverse stocks, all at once, without requiring you to meet the minimum investment requirements. They also allow you to pick and choose how much risk you want to take on and make it easy to adjust your investment portfolio as you age and go through major life changes.
Take advice from those who have been there and done that. Take action now, prioritize your future, leverage company match programs and index funds, and contribute what you can. By taking these steps, you’ll be able to avoid sacrificing things you love to do while you enjoy a long, happy life.