Let me guess. Retirement is one of the last things on your mind, right? I know. I'm a Millennial too. You're out getting your next tattoo, grabbing some Chipotle and, at the end of the day, worrying about your ever-increasing rent and student loan debt. Who's thinking about retirement?
Retirement is closer — and more achievable — than you think. Saving some money is better than saving none, and the truth is that you don't have to have a lot of money to begin an individual retirement account (IRA) or even to tackle that mountain of debt you accumulated while attending your dream school.
So whether you landed your dream job after college or not, here's how you can save money for retirement as a Millennial and begin a journey to financial success.
1. Pay off your debt first.
That debt looks crazy intimidating. How can you ever pay back up to $100k in student loans?
By starting. That's how.
Many debt collectors are flexible and will allow you to negotiate your payment plan. You don't have to pay off an enormous sum every month, just pay what you can afford. If you've got credit card debt, you need to begin to pay off your entire balance rather than just paying the minimum amount and cultivating a sea of debt including interest. Can't afford your entire balance? Then you shouldn't have bought the items that showed up on that bill. Spend within your means and have a budget. Speaking of ...
2. Make a budget now.
Do you think budgets are for old people who live on a fixed income? Guess what. You might not be old and your income might not be fixed, but that elderly woman fidgeting with her coupons in front of you at the grocery store is you on the other side. Make a budget now and stick to it. You'll be wise beyond your years and you might even be able to splurge once in a while because you stopped blowing your paycheck the weekend after payday.
Making a budget is easy and some might even argue sexy. So let's do it. What do you buy each month? What bills are you responsible for each month? Begin there.
3. Open an IRA.
It sounds fancy and complicated, but I promise it's not. You can either open a traditional individual retirement account or a Roth IRA. The difference between these two? You'll be able to defer taxes with a traditional IRA, but you'll essentially have no taxes when it comes to your growth in a Roth IRA. However, with a traditional IRA, you will have to wait to take out your money until you're 59. Anything taken out before this will likely land you with penalties.
Does it matter which one you choose? Yes, if you plan on needing the money sooner. Regardless, opening up an IRA is beneficial, so choose one and contribute. Investing in your IRA will help you accumulate money without trying very hard. This is an excellent account to have for your retirement, even if you have a 401(k) supplied by your employer.
4. Still contribute to your 401(k).
If you have a 401(k), that's great. Contribute as much as you're able to, and take advantage of employers that will match your contributions. Contributing to your 401(k) can also ensure that your income taxes are lower because your contributions to your 401(k) won't count. Even though you will have to pay taxes whenever you choose to take the money out, putting it in has its advantages. But also contribute to your IRA. Two retirement accounts? That's what I'm talking about. Financial success — cha-ching.
5. How much should you save?
So let's talk about how much you should save, exactly.
Well, how much do you have to save?
You shouldn't be living below your means to save for retirement, but experts speculate that putting away 15 percent of your income for retirement is a good idea. So aim for this. If this just isn't feasible, that's fine. Even 5 percent will do. Just do it. You'll be glad you did.
So while you may not be thinking about retirement at all, there's a reason you're reading this article, and that's because you're already dreading that moment when you realize that you won't be able to retire quite as early as you'd hoped. Give a little now, save lots later. Saving money as a Millennial is important.