The discussions that happen around retirement savings are filled with many implications. The biggest one being that everyone is doing it and understands how to fine tune their personal financial habits as they relate to this phase of life. When you get your first big job, typically there will be a 401k program, of course you will enroll, but will that be enough when retirement age gets closer? And perhaps more importantly, do you understand how to maximize that account as well as pair it with other savings opportunities to earn the biggest possible amount for yourself? Get familiar with how to diversify your savings plan and what options you have specifically related to retirement savings.
Investing your money will feel like a huge risk if you do not dedicate the time to learning about the different styles of investments and deciding which one feels right for you. The stock market can be fickle and for a novice investor, hard to understand. Consider enlisting the help of a professional to at the very least, introduce you to the market. Look at your budget and determine how much you can reasonably allocate towards investments each month that will help you decide the areas of investing that make the most sense for your retirement goals.
Using investing as a part of your overall strategy can take on many forms. Rental properties, IRA accounts, and stocks are all standard examples of places you can put your money to generate passive income to be saved for retirement. While rental properties are an example of a strategy that could be required low maintenance, the stock market is an example of one that will require significantly more attention. You can select stocks that have predictable patterns and invest that way, or you can take a more aggressive approach, like day trading.
The fast-paced nature of day trading requires a quick thinker not afraid of high-risk financial forums. As a long-term investment strategy this type of stock market activity may, or may not, be fruitful enough to make a significant impact. Either way this is an advanced approach to the stock market. This is the opposite of the traditional buy and hold method of making stock market investments so be sure you understand the process and not just the probable outcome before you open your wallet.
The sooner you can create a plan for your finances that support a healthy retirement account, the better. It is never too late to begin but the longer you wait to start the more aggressive your approach will have to be considering your timeline. When your life is in a phase of fewer financial obligations, this is a good time to bank away money into accounts that create compound interest. Making large contributions when you can, will bump up your nest egg and help to cushion the periods of your life when maybe you cannot contribute as much as before. Giving your money a chance to work in your favor through compound interest will not only help to grow your overall account, it will also provide you with an incentive to continue to prioritize adding to the pot. Watching your money saved turn into money earned through no additional effort on your part is positive reinforcement that will facilitate a continued habit of contributing.
Get on Auto Pilot
Pay yourself first is a common phrase regarding best practices for saving money. The gap between knowing and doing is large, specifically as it relates to personal finance, and by removing temptation from your bank account you are setting yourself up for long-term success. Pay yourself first simply means that you are taking away any chance of having your money disappear into all the wrong places.
Setting up automated ways to save will also help you to learn how to save without having to think about it that hard. Set your income up in a way so that a predetermined percentage of each paycheck is deposited into an account that is for savings only. Now the reminder that lands in your everyday accounts is what you can work with in terms of the categories of your budget. If you are a beginner, have a low level of self-discipline, or simply want to streamline your habits, automation will be your best friend.
Banking all financial windfalls is another great example related to automation. If you decide early on that all extra money earned or gifted to you will be dedicated strictly to savings, you will beef up your account totals without having to make sacrifices in your day-to-day. It is ok to reward yourself and enjoy the fruits of your labor but keep a sensibility and element of moderation in your YOLO decision making. Percentages are a great way to practice this. Decide on a percentage of each windfall that will be saved, and the remainder can be spent. This way you get to enjoy your unexpected financial victories without compromising your end game.
Trim the Fat
No matter how buttoned up you believe your budget to be, odds are there are areas in which you could trim down. The best thing about budgets is that they can be manipulated to suit each phase of life so use this to your advantage and learn how to live as lean as possible during each phase. For example, the phases of life spent sharing the financial burden of housing, be it living at home with your parents, or on your own but with roommates, are perfect scenarios to use money saved through cohabitation to dedicate towards retirement. While it may be tempting to be more frivolous with your money when your living expenses are low you will have a better pay out to yourself in your later years if you save at least most of that money instead.