By Lindsey Shindler
Retirement. Not many three-syllable words bring anxiety to mind in quite the same way. From 20-something millennials who don’t know how to get started, to baby boomers who have been fastidiously saving for the big day, having enough money put away for life after work can be a challenge fraught with road bumps.
Experts recommend saving early and often, but many Americans aren’t following this advice. The result: Playing catch-up in their golden years. To help people formulate a plan, the online Master of Science in Analytics program at American University collected tips and advice for people at all points in the journey to retirement. Their top piece of advice? Start saving now — it’s not too late — and then calibrate a strategy based on your specific timeline and goals.
For younger people, saving as much as possible has the added benefit of compound interest — the interest that is earned on interest. Think of it as making money on money you’ve made; and the sooner you save, the more you will earn. Compound interest works around the clock, and people who start in their twenties end up only needing to put away about one-third the amount of someone who begins in their thirties or later.
Another benefit for young people is that people with specific monetary goals in mind work toward those goals and minimize frivolities and impulse buying. Less stress and anxiety surrounding the future is another advantage; having money already stored means precious cranium real estate can be dedicated to passions and the pursuit of a fulfilling life.
Even if you missed the boat on saving for retirement early on, you can still make headway on financial goals at any age. In an article for CNBC, Anita Balakrishnan offered a few general tips for fiscally responsible adults at any age to save for retirement.
- Those in their thirties have benefits by way of a Roth IRA, which provides a tax-free environment for funds to grow, which is especially useful for growing the amount in a 30-something-year window. Roth 401(k) plans are now being offered by more and more employers, making accessibility easier.
- For people saving in their forties, it will become increasingly important to consolidate savings, whether it’s in the form of a plan with a previous employer, an individual retirement account (IRA), or a current plan with an employer.
- People who have reached their fifties or beyond without adequate retirement savings will be playing a game of fiscal catch up. It’s important at this stage in the game to play by the rules of the Internal Revenue Service, which allow for “catch-up provisions.” These provisions let people exceed the contribution limit for an employer retirement plan, such as saving an extra $1,000 for IRAs or an extra $6,000 in 401(k) plans.
Once the decision to save for your retirement has been made, it’s important to evaluate your earnings, savings, and retirement goals in order to outline the strategy and tactics you’ll use to achieve them.