If you’re in your twenties, you’ve still got time to make changes to your finances that will serve you well in the future. Making small moves now can have a huge payoff years later.
If you’re in your thirties, chances are you’ve already experienced highs and lows in your budget, as well as several changes in your financial situation. For instance, you may have settled into your career and even built a small nest egg. While you’re running a household and trying to save as much as you can, you may also be trying to pay for childcare, your mortgage or rent and student loans.
While this may be overwhelming, there could be a bright side to juggling all these financial obligations. Even though you may not have as much to repair your finances in your thirties as you did in your twenties, there are still some actions you can start putting in place to make sure your retirement (and the years in between) is something to look forward to.
The recession and financial crisis that we’re going experiencing and have dealt with during the past few years has truly taken on a toll on people in their 30s. about 40% of individuals who belong to Generation Y say they’ll never be comfortable investing in stocks, according to a report by MFS Investment Management.
In fact, since 1926, a portfolio that is mostly made up of stocks has never lost any more in any two-decade periods. The gains on the portfolio averaged over 10.8% annually, as opposed to 4% average gains for bonds. So, if you’re 30 or nearing this age, most of your portfolio should be made up of stocks – half should be in U.S. equities and about 30% should consist of foreign equity.
If you need more assistance with stocks and bonds, you can talk to your employer about getting a target-date fund for your 401K and a contribution mix that is appropriate for your age and years until retirement. You can also get specific suggestions from the MONEY 50 list of the best mutual funds in the world.
When you have a Roth retirement account, you’ll be able to save money after taxes, unlike with a traditional 401K, where you don’t have to pay income taxes on your withdrawals. The Roth IRA could be a great financial choice if you know you’ll be in a higher tax bracket by the time you retire.
This will likely be the case if you start investing at the beginning of your career. About 40% of large employer retirement plans give you the option of opening a Roth account, according to Aon Hewitt. To make sure you’re getting a good rate when you withdraw your funds, divide your contributions between a traditional 401K and a Roth IRA account.
While it may be tempting, it’s best not to cash out and keep your money in your retirement account until the time is right. Over 50% of workers in their 20s who leave their jobs don’t roll their 401K into an IRA or roll the money into their new employer’s retirement plan, shares Hewitt.
This is a bad move overall. For instance, if you have a $10,000 balance, you may only have about $7,000 left over after taxes and fees. However, if you keep the money growing at about 6% each year, you could have an additional $100,000 in your account by the time you’re ready to retire.
According to a recent study conducted by researchers from Chile, Harvard and Columbia, researchers have concluded that when your friends monitor the progress of your savings and vice versa, the balance of your savings account can double. When you know your friends are watching you and keeping you accountable for managing your money, you’re more likely to make saving for retirement a priority.
You’ll also be motivated to continue making progress in this area. When you and your friends have decided to keep checking in with each other when it comes to retirement savings, you’ll be able to ask each other for advice and talk about the feasibility of certain financial plans. This can help you not only in retirement preparation, but may assist you in making smarter financial choices overall.
When it comes to your budget, you should sweat the small stuff. If you have several credit card balanced, you’ll save more money by paying off the smallest debts first before taking on bigger financial obligations. According to professors at Northwestern University, if you eliminate small debt before getting rid of larger debt, you’ll be more successful at erasing your debt overall. When you pay small debt, the sense of accomplishment you feel will encourage you to pay off larger accounts. Once all your debt is out of the way, the sense of relief you feel can also motivate you to avoid unnecessary debt in the future.
Even though retirement is a long-term goal, it’s important to pay attention to the money you spend on a daily basis, since this will affect your financial future. For instance, getting a coffeemaker or buying your coffee from the grocery store instead of going to Starbucks each morning could save you thousands of dollars a year. Bringing your lunch to work instead of eating out can also help you save money.
You can save even more money by organizing your grocery list and meal prepping so you’ll know exactly how much you’re spending on food per week. Other small investments like going to the gym can be eliminated if you work out outdoors or find free exercise videos to use as guidelines instead of paying for a gym membership. When you take these small steps to keep more money in your pocket, you’ll have more money to put toward retirement. Your future self will be glad you put the extra effort into make sure that life is comfortable after you’ve completed your career.