As a millennial, retirement seems far away and not at all a priority. We aren’t really thinking about aging and therefore, saving for retirement isn’t at the top of our priority list.
According to the 2014 Wells Fargo Millennial Study
, only 55% of all millennials are saving for retirement. The main reasons for the lack of investment include not having enough money to save (84%), other more immediate priorities (81%) and the need to pay off debts first (77%). It is easy to say “I will save for retirement after I pay off this debt or once I buy a house,” but the longer you put off saving for retirement, the less time you have and the more likely you are to forget to make the investment. After graduating from college, we may have to pay off student loan debt, then perhaps save for a wedding, then a house, then prepare for a baby. Retirement can quickly fall off our list of priorities, but wise preparation for the distant is crucial.
Kiplinger.com recommends planning to have approximately 80% of your current yearly pre-retirement income available at retirement age. This amount can fluctuate, particularly based on healthcare needs. The earlier we begin to save for retirement, the more money we will have when retirement comes. Additionally, this allows flexibility on the age of retirement.
An article from Investopedia
lays out five retirement warning signs for millennials:
- Financial Literacy Gap: This is a big problem for millennials, but isn’t unique to our generation. The difference is the implications of our financial decisions. We are no longer in the time of employee pensions, and Social Security is uncertain for our generation. We have to be fully knowledgeable about our options, but right now, we aren’t.
- Delayed Savings: Only 61% of millennials label themselves as ‘savers’. As previously mentioned, this is an issue because saving early is one of the best ways to ensure a stress free, financially comfortable retirement.
- Drowning in Debt: Millennials are in a ton of debt (according to NerdWallet, the median debt for a student graduation is $23,300). These large amount of loans delay large purchases and savings.
- Income Inequality: Society is still recovering from the great recession, and jobs are scarce. Our generation is trying to find long-term employment and create financial security in a time where jobs are always to come by.
- Insufficient Social Security and Pensions: More than a third of millennials expect to receive 0% of their retirement income from Social Security, and another 21% say they have no idea what to expect, according to the previously mentioned Wells Fargo study. The uncertainty of social security that so many of us have, make it crucial to know our options and begin investing in retirement now.
Here is an overview of some of the retirement accounts easily accessible to millennials:
- Traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA)
The traditional IRA is a simple account to open and maintain. Contributions have a limit each year and there are fees associated with withdrawing money from the account before age 59 ½. Contributions to a traditional IRA are tax-deductible and the earnings grow on a tax-deferred basis (taxes are not paid until the money is withdrawn). Although rates will vary based on numerous factors, the average yield for a traditional IRA is 10%, so the earlier you invest, the more money you will have when it is time to retire. An IRA can be opened at most banks, and can either be your only retirement account or serve as a great compliment to another retirement account.
This account is the most common retirement account and is offered by many employers. A 401K allows employees to invest part of their paycheck in a retirement account on a pretax basis. Employers may match contributions from employees or make contributions as a percent of income. Millennials should talk with their employers about a 401K account and any matching incentives and contribute as they are able. Similar to the 401K is a 401B, which is frequently offered by nonprofit organizations.
RA account was created for people who want to save for retirement, but (1) don’t have access to a retirement plan at work and (2) earn less than $129,000/year. It is offered through the federal government. According to the my
RA website, this type of account is “simple, safe and affordable.” This account has no fees, is backed by the US Treasury and has the same interest rate as investments in the government securities fund available to federal employees.
CNN money has a retirement calculator
that allows you to estimate how much money you need to save based on your current age, income and intended retirement age. Although Social Security should be available to us, we cannot depend on it and we have to plan accordingly. It is vital for everyone in our generation to intentionally consider their finances and begin to invest in retirement now. We have to plan for retirement to ensure that we can retire and have the life that we want when we do so.
About the Author:
Jessica Sharp is the Diversity Coordinator at Greenville Health System and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. Jessica is a 2011 graduate of the University of South Carolina where she holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. She enjoys being involved in her community through organizations like the Junior League of Greenville and LeadHER Greenville. Jessica serves as a member of the PULSE marketing committee.