Having money squirreled away for a comfortable retirement isn’t something many people give much thought to in their twenties, and why would it be? When you’re twenty-five, the idea of retiring is so far off in the distance, you’d need a passport to get there. With a median life expectancy of 80 years for men and 82 years for women, you may feel like you have plenty of time to get started on saving for retirement, but here’s why you should start now and how to get the ball rolling as painlessly as possible.
If your company offers a 401k plan and you’re eligible to participate, sign up for it today! Don’t keep telling yourself you’ll get around to it or you’re too busy; speak with your HR or payroll department and find out what you need to do to get yourself signed up as soon as possible. The best news: Most companies will match a certain percentage of what you contribute and the younger you are when you start contributing, the longer your money has time to grow for you.
If you are already contributing to a 401k plan, contribute as much as you possibly can while still keeping to a sensible budget. You shouldn’t be going into debt in order to save for retirement – that defeats the purpose!
Here’s a great calculator tool to help demonstrate how different contribution scenarios may pay off long-term: Bankrate.com – 401k Retirement Calculator
For example, if you are 25, have a base annual salary of $30,000 and contribute just 5% ($1,500) of your salary to your 401k each year, with an annual rate of return of 4%, you will have accumulated almost $146,000 by the time you retire at 65. That’s without future salary increases or company matches taken into consideration.
As of May 2015, Fidelity, one of the largest 401K providers in the world, estimated that the average 401k balance is $91,800. For employees participating in 401k plans for at least 10 years, the average balance was around $251,600, up 12% from just a year ago. See what numbers you’re most comfortable with and start putting away a percentage of your paycheck today. After two or three paychecks, you won’t even miss the money that’s being automatically saved and invested for you. Think of it as paying yourself first. Future you will be grateful!
If your company doesn’t offer a 401k plan, or you’re ambitious about saving and looking to supplement your retirement income, look into opening an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) (Fidelity.com – What is an IRA?).
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