Every year is a step towards retirement. here is how to make the most of your time building wealth.
Your First Job
Start saving for your retirement early. Upon getting that first job. Ask about your company retirement plan and find out when you are eligible. Your goal should be to save 10-15% of your wages, and each year increase that amount by 1%. if your employer has automatic escalation in their plan, let it happen. If you can’t start out saving 10-15%, try to increase your saving 1% each year. At least contribute to maximize your companies match. Annually, as you get a raise, increase your contributions. Work with your financial advisor to determine which retirement contribution type is best for you (Roth vs. Traditional).
If you are self-employed, work with a financial advisor to start saving on your own.
Create a spending/saving budget and stick to it. Mark down what you think your monthly expenses are and then track what you actually spent. This should identify areas to save towards. Exp. Not buying a coffee every day.
Create an emergency fund. Start to put money in an account for emergencies. The goal should be to have 3-6 months of income in this fund.
Health Savings Account. If your health insurance plan qualifies you to put funds into a Health Savings Account. Consider making this a part of your retirement savings as this account is the only vehicle that has triple tax benefits.
Be debt adverse. Be sure to pay off those high interest credit cards. Try and save for big purchases and pay for cash if possible. Use loans for purchases such as transportation and housing only.
Read the Blog: Five Decisions That Will Shape Your Financial Future
Major Life Events
This is a good time to start incorporating a financial advisor in your planning. Here is what you should look for in an advisor.
Getting married, having kids, etc. Now that you and your spouse have others depending on your income. Look into your insurance needs such as term life insurance and disability insurance. Be wary of insurance products that also include investment pieces as they often come with increased costs (whole life, variable life, etc.). If possible, work through an independent insurance broker to see all your options.
Work together to create a financial plan. Create a family budget that includes amounts that you want to save for retirement.
Starting a family. After your first little one arrives, as with retirement, you should look into starting to save for college as soon as possible. Most states have 529 savings plans (Check out this article - 10 Questions to Consider Before Opening A 529 Account) that you should look into first. Keep in mind that you can invest in plans outside of your state and they still qualify for college spending.
Create an estate plan. Now that you have a family you should look into creating an estate plan that includes a trust, will, durable power of attorney for health, mental, and financial.
As you turn 40, evaluate your financial plan annually. Consult your financial advisor annually to ensure you are saving in the correct way (Roth vs. Traditional). As your family’s income level increase you may have opportunities to save more than your retirement plan will allow.
Leaving a job to pursue another opportunity. Consider your options for money in your former employer plan.
Re-evaluate your insurances, life insurance, disability insurance, may want to consider whether long term care insurance is an option. Consider an umbrella policy. Most are inexpensive and they take effect only once you have exhausted your liability coverage from your home/auto policies. If you make more than $100k each year, or if you have more than $1m in assets, get more than $1m in umbrella coverage.
As you move to an empty nest or approach your mid-50’s, you and your spouse may start to discuss when you want to retire. This is a very important time as you are now approaching retirement.
On the verge of retiring this can be a very confusing time, with choices on how to spend down the funds you have accumulated. You want to be tax efficient in your approach.