You did it. After four (or maybe more) long years, you’re finally done with school and you’re ready to start your first ‘real’ job. It might seem crazy to think about retirement at such a relatively young age, but the reality is that it is never too early to start. The more you plan and the more you save for your retirement early in your career, the more it will pay off in the long run. The more money you put away in these early years, the longer it will be able to accrue interest and grow.
Here are four ways to start planning for your retirement right after college:
Talk to a financial planner
This is a good first step to take. While we learn a lot in school, not many of us learn about investing, financial planning, and retirement planning. Additionally, numbers and math aren’t everyone’s strong suit. Talking to a financial planner is a way to get advice from a professional on what your options are and what might be the best for you now. Be sure to vet the planner as not all will have your best interests at heart. It’s ok to admit that the planner isn’t a fit. But, overall, utilizing a professional will help you get on track early on.
If you’re in a company that provides 401(k)s as a benefit, utilize it. 401(k)s have numerous benefits and often make up a good chunk of a retirement fun. A recent survey from AAG showed that millennials in particular expect to fund a significant portion of their retirement through their 401(k)s.
Often times employers will do contribution matching, meaning that for every dollar of your income that you contribute to your 401(k), the employer will also contribute the same amount. Usually this is capped at a certain percentage of your income. In a sense, this is free money. Taking a small percent of your paycheck to put into your 401(k) and then have your employer match it is an easy way to rack up dollars for retirement.
If you’re already contributing to your 401(k) and still want to keep socking away money for retirement, an IRA is a safe option. An IRA is an individual retirement account that is tax-deferred and therefore is an attractive option for compounding interest faster than a taxable account. You can open an IRA at almost any bank or financial institution and it allows you to save money the way you want to.
Create an emergency fund
Another step that everyone should take is to create an emergency fund. This goes beyond just helping you save for retirement, but it does relate. As the saying goes, “[stuff] happens,” and it usually happens when you least expect it. Having several months saved up for rent, health insurance, food, gas, etc. will keep you afloat in case things really do hit the fan. This is something you should start working on now and keep throughout your life, including retirement. Having this fund will ensure that you don’t have to take funds from another source, such as your IRA, to pay for your emergency need.
Planning for retirement is something oft-forgotten but it shouldn’t be. Even early in your career you can start planning and start saving. The earlier you build up your funds the more it will pay off in the end. These tips are a few ways to get a head start on setting yourself up for the future.