Retirement planning isn’t just something that starts at a particular stage of life. It’s a process that should begin when you enter the workforce and continue until you retire, and even beyond. But for many, the modes of employment change, and the strategy you had in mind when you got your first job out of college (or the strategy that your parents used) may no longer work for you. Here are some tips to consider as you progress through the working world.
First, consider starting a retirement savings account as part of an entire financial plan that includes a budget and expense tracking. You don’t have to be a “numbers person.” Think about the lifestyle you want to live—both while you’re working and in retirement—and sketch out conservative numbers to determine how you’ll get there.
You may not have access to a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored plan, but that shouldn’t stop you from opening a retirement savings account and contributing as much as you can. Some key reasons to max out your yearly contribution to a retirement account if you can: to take advantage of the tax benefits and compound growth offered. It may help to have money withdrawn automatically and deposited into your retirement account so that you can consider it as another “expense.”
According to a LinkedIn study, the number of companies people have worked for in the five years after graduation has nearly doubled in the past 20 years.1 Therefore, having a retirement plan that moves with the individual makes a lot of sense. Additionally, if you’re part of the growing population of independent contractors or freelancing workforce, you may not have access to a traditional 401(k). In these cases, options like IRAs might form a main component of your retirement strategy.
At a certain point, you may want to consider the types of insurance coverage you may need and check on the progress of your retirement strategy. Don’t get discouraged if you’re off track, it’s never too late to recommit yourself through budgeting and short-term lifestyle changes.
No matter where you are in your career, every time you experience a major life event, like if you purchase a home or have children, it’s time to review your overall financial picture. Major life events often trigger the need for different insurance or more savings, which can change how you save for retirement.
Finally, as you draw closer to retirement, it’s even more important to focus on how you’ll pay for it. You should think about the income streams you’ll have in retirement, as well as how you’ll access them. And don’t forget about health care expenses and long-term care insurance; these can be critical in your retirement planning.
Each stage of life can require different ways of looking at retirement planning. It’s something that you stay on top of throughout your working life, fine-tuning as your life changes so that you can meet your goals for retirement. When your life circumstances change, reassess where you are and what you’ll need to do to retire, and don’t forget about health care expenses or long-term care insurance as you update your planning.