It’s never too early to start planning for retirement. Knowing what strategies to employ at each phase of your retirement planning will help you develop an overall strategy that will work no matter what your age. With that in mind, BusinessNewsDaily asked three financial experts what workers need to do before turning 30 to retire with enough savings.
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Budget and create a plan
First and foremost, workers must put a retirement plan in place. Not only should this plan include how you will save, but it should also focus on when you want to retire. This has the benefit of focusing workers on what they must do in order to clearly establish their retirement goals.
"To stick your money haphazardly into retirement funds and just say I want to retire by a certain age, is not as effective as really thinking about what kind of money you need to retire off of," said Leslie Tayne, a lawyer with more than 10 years of experience in consumer and business financial debt-related services. "You may have the goal to retire by a certain age, but if you don’t have the correct vehicle to do so you may get caught short. People really need to research and see which stocks or bonds will be performing to see how much money will grow and that is true for any investment."
However, before savers can ever start that plan, they must set a budget, Tayne said.
"People need to figure out their budget first, because perhaps you find out that there is no money to even place into retirement," said Tayne, the founder of the law offices of Leslie Tayne. "You need to know how much money you are talking about because you will determine which vehicles will be accessible immediately, or what you need to do to get to them."
Pay down debts
Young workers would also be well served by paying down any debts they have as a way to help accomplish future retirement goals. This is particularly important not only to make their debt obligations manageable, but also to help them maximize their savings later in life.
"Young people coming out of college tend to have a lot of debt, be it credit card or college loans, so we focus on creating a plan to get them out of debt so they can really focus on their savings," said Paula Hendrickson, director of retirement plan consulting at First Western. "The high interest debt is what they need to get rid of. Any high interest debt is what you want to pay off."
The fruits of paying off that high-interest debt will be realized later on in life, Hendrickson says.
"(You can) maximize future savings by paying down loans earlier," said Hendrickson, who has more than 25 years of experience in retirement planning. "When you hit 30, you will begin to have a house and college savings and other things you will start looking at, so you want to try to keep that from adding onto other existing debt."
Start contributing to a 401(k)
Contributing to a 401(k) is another important step in retirement preparation. Although many people may not think about saving in a 401(k) before turning 30, Rich Rausser, senior vice president of client services at Pentegra Retirement Services, says that starting early can be a huge benefit to savers.
"The number one thing is to start saving as soon as you can, the first dollar you contribute to retirement savings is the most valuable dollar you will ever spend," Rausser said.
While that first dollar may be critical to retirement savings, workers must also continue to contribute over time.
"The earlier you start (contributing), the better off you will be in the long run," Rausser said. "To illustrate that, if you take someone who is 25 years old and say they start contributing to a savings vehicle, a 401(k) or an IRA, and they do that for 10 years. If they are saving 6 percent of salary for 10 years and they stop after 10 years and let the money continue to grow on a tax- deferred compounded basis.
"Compare that to a second individual who doesn’t do anything at age 25, but 10 years later at age 35 contributes the same 6 percent of salary and they go it until age 65. When you do the math on that, the first person who saved for 10 years actually ends up with a little more money than the person who contributes for 30 years at the end."
Rausser, however, does not recommend workers set their sights on a single number; instead they should aim to contribute 10 percent of their salary to their 401(k) before turning 30.
"Keep goals reasonable to avoid frustration," Rausser said.