I hit on the main ways of diagnosing your financial health in this past post. I’m going to use Wednesdays to go further in depth on each point since I truly believe that financial health leads to less stress and happier lives.
I have already covered the first two points, Spend Less Than You Earn and starting an Emergency Fund. The third point was to save enough for retirement. This means saving consistently to fully fund the years after you stop working full time. Whether you choose to retire or simply age out, retirement savings is a truly important part of your fiscal life since you lose options with age.
Look at Your Options
You may be eligible for a 401k, 403b, IRA, Roth IRA, pension plan, etc. We even plan on using our stock investments at Scottrade as retirement income down the road.
Out of all of these options, I’d first concentrate on the 401k to see if your employer matches any contributions. If so, make sure to contribute as much as you need to in order to get the full employer contribution. Otherwise, you are literally ignoring free money. What other investment do you know of with a 50% – 100% rate of return?
In our case, I get matched 100% up to 6% in my 401k. We definitely contribute the entire 6%.
As for our other retirement accounts, my husband is also eligible for a full pension, so we keep an eye on that. We also contribute to a Roth IRA since we believe we’re in the lowest tax bracket of our lives right now (15%). I want to be able to accumulate interest for the next 25 years and not have to pay anything to the IRS for it when we start taking withdrawals. In fact, we’re looking into starting another Roth IRA this year.
No matter what way you are able to contribute, the important part is to take action and start saving.
Set Your Goals
Using articles and online calculators, like the Roth IRA calculator or the 401k calaculator you see in this post, you will be able to determine your overall retirement needs. In general, most people believe you will need at least 80% of your pre-retirement income, but I think there are quite a few factors involved.
For example, we save about 40% of our joint income every month, which means we only live on 60%. Should we still make sure to have at least 80% of our income throughout our retirement years?
Personally, I think we should plan on using as much as we use now. We won’t have a house payment, but we will have increased medical costs. I also plan for our future as if the pension and retirement accounts will be our only source of income. Sure, we hope to continue working hobby jobs and to receive Social Security benefits, but I rather plan conservatively.
Our current goal is to have between $2-$3 million saved up along with my husband’s pension.
Once you have chosen your retirement account(s), set up an automatic way of contributing. In our case, my 401k and my husband’s pension plan contributions are automatically deducted from our paychecks before we even see our money. We also have an automatic deduction set up monthly from our checking account into our Roth IRA.
Automated contributions take out the guess work and ensure you’ll have something saved regularly for your future. Remember to continue this automated contribution plan for your whole working life…we are talking long-term.
Retirement savings is what’s going to keep you going through the later years of your life. Please plan accordingly.
Are you currently saving for retirement? Are you happy with your contribution amounts? Does anyone else know anyone that actually seems to be following the plan below?