Start Saving ASAP! Not tomorrow, not next week. Don’t wait till you get a raise. Don’t wait till after Christmas or next year. Do it today. The money you put in to your retirement accounts today will continue to grow through compounding interest.
You should immediately start investing in your employers 401(k)! Typically they will match a certain percentage with their own contribution. So make sure you invest enough to get their full match! This is “free money” to help you meet your retirement savings goal. But you’ll only get that contribution if you contribute first. It’s the best and easiest way to fund your retirement. Don’t walk away from “free money.” It’s always deducted from your paycheck automatically, so you won’t miss it.
Pay attention to fees you pay in your investment accounts. These can decrease your returns greatly. Even a minimal 1% fee will cost you a great deal long term.
Do not ever cash out your retirement accounts early. Dipping into your retirement funds early will hurt you tremendously. For starters, you’re immediately and negatively impacting all the hard work that you have done so far with your savings—and you’re preventing that money from being invested and growing. Second, you’ll be hit with a steep penalty. Lastly, you’ll get hit by Uncle Sam with a tax bill for the money you did withdraw. All of these factors make cashing out early a last resort.
When you get a raise, send it to your retirement account(s)! You won’t miss it. Every time you get a pay increase, you should immediately up your savings auto-transfer and increase your contributions to your retirement accounts. Imagine how your retirement nest egg would look if you increase your contributions as your income rises.
If your employer doesn’t offer a 401K, open up a Roth IRA account to manage your own retirement account. Even if you have access to a 401K, a Roth IRA is a great secondary retirement account.
Make sure you rebalance your investment portfolio at minimum once per year. You always want to make sure your investment allocations continue to match your overall financial goals. Of course, stocks come with a great dose of risk, so you want to make sure to set aside a percentage of your money in a low risk, low return investment like bonds.