Retirement savings won't just happen: You have to make them happen

Early in our adult lives it is difficult to focus on something so far away as retirement. If you’re young and healthy, now is the time to start planning and saving for retirement. Many who launched careers in the middle of the last century went to work

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  • Early in our adult lives it is difficult to focus on something so far away as retirement. If you’re young and healthy, now is the time to start planning and saving for retirement.

  • Many who launched careers in the middle of the last century went to work for one company, stayed 30 years and retired with a nice pension. The federal government kicked in some social security benefits and incomes in retirement looked much like they did during working years. Retirement lasted only 10 or 15 years on average and there were no problems.

  • If you’re yet to celebrate your 40th birthday, you are likely in a very different situation. You’ll likely change employers much more often. There will be no pension and social security benefits will almost certainly represent a lower percentage of your income during retirement than it was for people who retired before 2000.

  • Add to that the fact that you are likely to live a very long time. If you take care of yourself, you could easily live to be 100 years old. You probably already knew that. Did you think about the fact that if you live to be 100 and you retire at 65, you’ll need enough money to live for 35 years without a job? You may not be 35 years old yet! That’s a long time to go without a job.

  • You’re going to need a lot of money. Optimally, you’ll end up with a nest egg so big the number would scare you. You may really need to have more than a $1 million when you retire (depending on inflation and the lifestyle you want). It is almost impossible to save up the sort of money you’ll need in the last ten or even 15 years of your career, no matter how well you’re doing then.

  • That means that you need to get serious right now. If you’re not contributing generously to your company’s 401k plan, start today. Stop reading and call human resources to set it up—then finish reading this article.

  • Even if you are contributing to your 401k, you may not be contributing enough. Sit down with a financial professional to figure out how much you’ll really need to retire when you’d like. If you can’t contribute to a 401k because your employer doesn’t offer one, be sure to contribute to an IRA. If you or your spouse doesn’t have an earned income, invest for him, too, in an IRA.

  • Don’t cop out and tell me you’ll never retire because you love work. I’m not buying it. If you live to be 102, I don’t believe you’ll work up until the end. You may even genuinely want to work until you’re 102, but I don’t know many people that age who are still working at all, let alone earning anything like what they did in their prime. Ultimately, retirement will be forced on you even if you don’t want to retire.

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  • Be ready or be sorry!

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Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.

Website: http://www.yourmarkontheworld.com

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