How to Start Retirement Planning in Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s - Deepstash
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Planning For Retirement: Start Early

Planning For Retirement: Start Early

When and how you plan for retirement can make a huge difference in when you can ditch your job and how enjoyable life will be when you do. Of course, the ideal route is to start saving as soon as you start working. If you land your first job in your early 20s, it can be very helpful to start stashing away cash while you're still potentially living in your parents' home and have little consumer debt.

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4 Steps to Start Retirement Planning In Your 20s

4 Steps to Start Retirement Planning In Your 20s

Sometimes life gets in the way of saving as much as you'd like. Student loans, mortgage payments, and unforeseen financial expenses can completely throw off the best-laid retirement plans. However, it is possible to start in your 30s, 40s, and even 50s and still have enough to bid your day job adieu.

Here's how you can get them both in alignment no matter what age you are today.

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Step 1: Envision Your Retirement Lifestyle

Step 1: Envision Your Retirement Lifestyle

Although this may be decades away, think of your plans for your future self. Do you want to stop working in your 40s or your 70s? Do you want to spend your days with your children, or volunteering at animal shelters, or sailing around the Mayan riviera? Or some combo of all three? Retirement is not only about the freedom to pursue hobbies, but also about being able to live life on your terms. It may be hard to imagine this in your 20s because you may have just left the nest or truly be enthralled with your new career.

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Step 2: Pay Off Your Debt And Start Saving

Step 2: Pay Off Your Debt And Start Saving

One of the most important things you can do for your future is to accumulate cash. That's what a savings account is for. You may also have student loan debts or a store card that has a balance that needs to be paid off. Work on your emergency savings (three to six months of living expenses) at the same time that you pay off these debts. If your student loans are insurmountable, use income-based repayment plans to create a sustainability plan.

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Step 3: Invest as much as you can

Step 3: Invest as much as you can

According to Fidelity Investments' annual resolutions study, among the next generation (ages 18-35), 62 percent plan to increase their retirement contribution in the year ahead, at a far higher level than older Americans (34 percent). Save at least 15% of your pre-tax income each year for retirement, which includes any contributions you may get from your employer if you have a 401(k) or other workplace retirement account.

Starting early, even with smaller amounts, is key to achieving financial freedom. Compound interest works in your favour. 

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Step 4: If Your Job Offers a Retirement Plan, Go For It

If you land a salaried role, chances are that you'll have the opportunity to invest in a retirement account called a 401(k). This plan allows employees to contribute a portion of their income on a pre-tax basis. The income is not taxed at the time it is earned, but rather when it is withdrawn from the account during retirement. To be eligible to contribute to a 401(K), an individual must have an employment history with his or her company and be over 18 years old. As of 2021, you can contribute up to $19,500 per year.

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3 Steps to Start Retirement Planning in Your 30s

3 Steps to Start Retirement Planning in Your 30s

Thirty is not the new 20 when it comes to retirement savings. At this age, you may already feel the burden of taking care of aging parents or young dependents. Student loans may linger, but your income is probably reaching new heights. If you haven't yet had time to focus on retirement, don't feel bad. You're not alone.

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Step 1: Max Out 401(k) Savings

Remember that pesky 401(k) savings account that you may or may not have had the chance to max out? Now, dump as much money into that account as possible, get the employer match, and pay attention to the fund options. Usually, they are funds that are so risk-averse they are barely making more than your savings account. You can afford to be riskier—consider medium to high-risk options that can skyrocket your gains over the next 10 to 20 years.

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Step 2: Look Into IRAs

Step 2: Look Into IRAs

Once you've contributed all you can to your employer-driven retirement accounts, consider other outside accounts, such as traditional and Roth IRAs (individual retirement accounts). Work with a financial planner to figure out which one is best for you. If you're already married and there's an income gap between spouses, there are ways for one spouse to help fund the retirement account of the other. Take a look at whether a spousal IRA is an option for your family.

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Step 3: Get Ready For College Expenses

If you had children in your 20s or 30s, chances are you're preparing for their college expenses side-by-side with your retirement savings. For them, start a 529 plan for college and trade school expenses. Also consider unconventional ways to grow your wealth, while also saving for their future. 

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3 Steps to Start Retirement Planning in Your 40s

There are many reasons why retirement savings might not have been an option until your 40s. For example, many people come to the U.S. for study in their 20s or skilled work in their 30s, and realize in their 40s that they have some financial catching up to do. Similarly, freelancers, artists, entrepreneurs, and folks in the middle of a second or third career might find themselves more focused on retirement savings now than ever before.

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Step 1: Invest in The Right Portfolio

Step 1: Invest in The Right Portfolio

Consider medium-risk investment portfolios: 50 percent to 60 percent as large-cap stocks, and the rest in less risky assets like bonds, gold, and other stable commodities. If you're not sure where to begin, check out investment platforms like Public.com, which helps people become better investors, no matter their level of investing experience. 

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Step 2: Track Your Spending

Step 2: Track Your Spending

Your 40s is when keeping up with the Joneses really kicks in. Family vacations ramp up, kids' expenses double and triple, and you start to feel like you've worked hard for the good things in life. The truth is that inflation is making the cost of basic needs very expensive, so you'll need to be careful about excess spending today that could rob you of your carefree future.

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Step 3: Make Sure You're Properly Insured

As you age, health risks and the cost of health insurance increase. No matter how much you have saved, it can easily be wiped out by a medical expense that isn't properly covered. Now is a great time to consider your health insurance, long-term care insurance, and any other medical care benefits that you might have put off.

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3 Steps to Start Retirement Planning in Your 50s

3 Steps to Start Retirement Planning in Your 50s

Chances are that you have money saved somewhere, just not in your retirement account. Your income may be steady, which is also a good thing. You may have untapped equity in your home, too. Your interest in full-time work may be in flux, as well as greater demands on your time—grandkids, civic organizations, taking care of elders and neighbours.

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Step 1: Automate With Digital Tools

Everyone can retire with dignity. All we have to do is consistently invest 10 percent of whatever we make and forget that it exists until we actually retire. Technology has advanced enough to enable investing consistently in micro amounts.

Get an account that allows you to auto-invest 10 percent of what you earn consistently until retirement.

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Step 2: Get Your Finances Organized

If you don't know where your bank passwords are, get a book or online password keeper to make sure you're never locked out. If you have only paper copies of important documents, digitize them in a tool like My Macro Memoir, which other family members can access if they need to. In short, get all your financial details out of your head and into an organizer—virtual or hard copy. 

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Step 3: Reevaluate the Value Of Your Home

Step 3: Reevaluate the Value Of Your Home

Over time, homes can have accumulated a lot of equity that could be better leveraged to move to an appropriately located or better-sized home that wouldn't cost as much to maintain. Think of how you can use your home to fund your future. Rent out an empty room on VRBO or Airbnb. Take out equity to buy a vacation home, which can generate retirement income. Learn more about reverse mortgages to decide if you truly need one. Creatively use your home as a tool to finance your future.

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The Bottom Line: Start Now

The Bottom Line: Start Now

There are lots of resources out there for free, including influencers who teach you how to retire early, and apps that help you find cities with a lower cost of living where you can retire in style. The earlier you start, the greater your chances of achieving your retirement goals. So if you haven't started already, the next best time to start is right now.

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CURATED BY

catherinma

Land/geomatics surveyor

CURATOR'S NOTE

An important read on saving and investing for retirement, no matter what your age.

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