For many of us, our 30s are a dynamic time in life. During these busy years, jobs turn into careers and relationships are solidified by marriage or transformed by children. Most people are also in their mid-30s when they purchase their first home. While these are all expensive items, one thing you should not overlook is saving for retirement.
Retirement seems a long way off when you are 30, but is much closer when you turn 39. The sooner you start saving and investing for your golden years, the more money you will have when the time comes. And, if you work it right, you may even be able to start your retirement earlier than expected.
Thirty-three percent of people ages 30 to 49 years old don’t have a retirement account. YIKES!! If you’re within this one-third of people, and in your 30s, you need to make retirement savings a priority.
If you aren’t in your 30s, these articles can help with retirement planning:
- Retirement In Your 20s: What To Do NOW To Get On the Right Savings Path
- Saving for Retirement in Your 40s
- In Your 50s? There is Still Time to Save for Retirement
- Why It’s Not Too Late to Save for Retirement in Your 60s
STRATEGIES TO SAVE FOR RETIREMENT IN YOUR 30s
Invest in your 401(k)
If your company offers retirement savings through a 401(k), start by discussing your options with someone in human resources. They can get you set up with a plan that works well with your income and goals.
If you currently contribute to your company’s plan, make sure you are making the maximum contribution that they may match. For example, if they match 25% of what you contribute, up to 4% of your contributions, that is FREE MONEY! Make sure your contribution is 4% as they will give you 1% for free – for a total 5% contribution.
As you get a raise, continue to increase your contribution by 1% annually. You will not miss the money and will be on target for achieving your savings goals.
Open an IRA
Another retirement vehicle to consider is an IRA. An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is an easy way to add more money to your retirement savings. You can contribute up to $5,500 (subject to age and income limitations) and the contributions may be tax deductible (see your CPA).
Visit with a Financial Planner
Financial Planners are a must when you have investments and are saving for retirement. They analyze and help ensure you are on the right path to achieving your financial goals. They don’t usually charge for their services (if you invest with them) and can tailor a plan just for you.
Don’t change jobs
Sometimes it is tempting to change jobs because it looks better. But, keep in mind that you will need to start over with service requirements and contributions to a retirement plan. The company may also have a plan that is not nearly as robust as the one through your current employer, making you miss out on additional savings.
Diversify your investments
As you get older, the level of risk you can, or are willing to take, changes. You can be much more aggressive in your 20s and early 30s, but as you approach your 40s, you may want to make adjustments. Ask your investment or financial advisor about changes you should make each year.
FINANCIAL GOALS IN YOUR 30s
In addition to saving for retirement, there are goals you may want to achieve and financial rules you should follow once you hit your 30s.
Make sure you have a written budget you follow every month. You should account for every penny you make — in essence giving every penny a job. Don’t forget to include items such as additional retirement and emergency fund savings accounts.
Watch your Credit Report and Score
Each year, check your credit report for free at AnnualCreditReport (this is the free site mandated by the government and the only one you should use). Check for errors such as items that should have been discharged, accounts you did not open and other issues so you can submit them for correction.
You should also know your credit score. You can use a free site such as Credit Sesame to check your credit score, but keep in mind it is your vantage score (so not your true score – but it is pretty accurate). If you want to know your actual credit score, MyFico.com offers this and access to your credit reports from all agencies for a reasonable fee.
Save at least six months of income
Experts have always said you should save three months of your income in case of an emergency. However, if we learned anything during the last recession, that isn’t quite enough. If you are single, work on saving at least six months of income and if you have a family, aim for nine. You can increase your savings in many ways, such as eating out less, selling items and even getting a second job.
Have a will and health care directives
It is something none of us wants to think about, but it is important to not only have a will, but also health care directives as well. For around $70 – $90 you can create one at LegalZoom. However, if your situatio is more complex, or you are not comfortable creating one yourself, it is important to reach out to an attorney who specializes in estate planning.
Check your life insurance
If you have kids, you need life insurance. And, it is also wise to purchase policies on them as well. If something happens to any of you, funeral expenses alone can be a financial burden. Then, if there are medical expenses you need to pay for on top of burial costs, it can cause a lot of financial strain for your loved ones.
Invest Time, Too
A 2014 survey conducted by Charles Schwab, found that only 11 percent of workers spent five hours or more assessing their 401(k) investment options. This is far less time than how long many of us spend researching a new car or a vacation! If the idea of investments and the terminology attached overwhelms, you might consider taking a course. It might be good to think about hiring someone to help.
A trained professional can ensure you are meeting your retirement goals. When you work with a financial planner, he or she will help you establish an account and assist with diversification – an important element to successful investment. A good financial planner can be invaluable when your accounts, and family, grow.
Steady As You Grow
Once children enter the picture, so do a host of excuses about why retirement saving is impossible. While it’s important to provide every avenue of support for your little ones, you must do so responsibly. For instance, starting a state-sponsored 529-college plan for your children is a great way to save for college expenses but it’s important to remember that they can always get a loan for school – you can’t for retirement.
What is your key takeaway for saving if you are in your 30s? Start putting more money away for retirement. While saving 10-15 percent of your income for retirement might be difficult, it will feel so good when you are comfortably retiring in your 60s.