I can honestly say retirement planning was the last thing on my mind in my twenties. I took a job with an airline to get free airfare and cheap hotels and cruises. The job had a pension attached, but it wasn’t enough to keep me there. The bright side? It was probably good I didn’t stay because of the pension. And, I then found a job I love.
Think About Long Term Career Plans
Planning retirement is planning your future. To not feel stuck in your job twenty years from now, make concrete steps to either move along your career path or change to a new one. The best starting point is to map out your career path either on your own or with the help of a mentor, alumni career services office from your alma mater, or a professional organization. If you are considering staying with your current company for the long-term, talk to your supervisor about what your long-term future could be within the company. Then talk to the other places mentioned for what your long-term future could be outside of it.
Build Good Financial Habits
Retirement will be much easier if you have less debt and good habits beforehand, says JJ Montanaro, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) at USAA. Focus first on staying within your budget. Read articles for personalized budget ideas, and how to budget for your lifestyle. Make sure you are making smart decisions, such as picking a federal student loan repayment plan you can afford. When you charge new debt, have a plan for paying it off. If you have credit card debt now, budget for your payoff plan within your current budget. Always make sure an emergency fund is also in your budget, and that it isn’t put behind debt payoff. Striving for one month of expenses in your emergency fund is a good start.
Learn About Your Workplace and Other Retirement Plans
Don’t worry about your retirement income just yet, says Montanaro. Focus more on working on contributing to your company’s 401(k) retirement plan up to the matching amount. For instance, let’s say your company matches up to 5 percent of your salary dollar-for-dollar. You earn $2,000 every two weeks. 5 percent of your salary is $100. If you contributed $100 to your retirement account, your workplace would deposit another $100. And, the $100 wouldn’t cost you $100. Why? It’s contributed tax-deferred, which means you wouldn’t pay taxes on the $100 until it’s withdrawn — preferably in retirement. If you pay 25 percent of your salary to taxes now, you’d get $75 to spend for that $100 instead of $200 in your retirement account. If you’re self-employed you should talk to a financial advisor.
Protecting Your Loved Ones
The good news is that your life insurance needs are pretty limited before you have children. You can just select a whole life policy your work place offers. If you do have people depending on your income, such as a spouse, partner, and/or children, consider getting term life insurance. Term life insurance is a short-term policy for a set number of years to cover expenses, such as a paying off a mortgage or child care expenses. It’s often less expensive than whole life policies because the policy ends while you are still pretty young. As with any other decision you make, making smart choices now will help you be in a better financial position for your entire life.