As you get older, earn more, and begin to pay off debt, however, you’ll gain the ability to engage in mindful spending, and plan for your eventual retirement. Even if retirement is a long way off, you know you’ll want to spend it comfortably, and the sooner you start saving, the more money you’ll have … Of course, you first need to know the best options for retirement planning.
Here are a few pointers for Millennials interested in getting started.
Contribute to an Employer-Sponsored Retirement Account
This is step one–let’s call it the gateway to retirement planning, since this is where most young adults begin. Many employers offer a 401-K as part of the standard benefits package, and as a way to entice desirable candidates into employment.
Even better, many employers offer matching contributions, often in the range of 3-5% of your annual salary. In order to gain access to these matching funds, you will have to contribute to your 401-K, and it’s smart to contribute the maximum so that you may gain the greatest benefits from employer contributions, not to mention compound interest.
Set Up Supplemental Retirement Accounts
If you start plugging numbers into a retirement calculator, what you’re likely to discover pretty quickly is that the small contributions you’re making to your 401-K aren’t likely to support a desirable lifestyle upon retirement. You will need to find ways to supplement your existing retirement plan; luckily, there are a couple of options to consider.
The most common supplemental plan is an individual retirement account, or IRA. There are many types of IRAs (traditional, Roth, self-directed, etc.) to choose from with varying tax incentives and other benefits. You might also consider something a little more outside the box, like an Index Universal Life Policy, which includes both life insurance and a retirement account. What you really gain when you set up such accounts is the ability to funnel more money toward retirement savings each year, once you’ve hit the limit on contributions to your 401-K.
Create an Investment Portfolio
If you’re maxing out retirement accounts and you want to do more with flexibility and potential for earnings, then setting up a diverse portfolio of investments, including stocks, bonds, and mutual funds could be the answer. Work with a trusted broker to create a strategy that delivers the greatest potential rewards, at a risk level you’re comfortable with.
Take Advantage of ESPP
If you work for a publicly traded company, you may receive stock-related benefits, such as stock grants or stock options to exercise at a later date. Many publicly traded companies also offer their employees access to an ESPP, or Employee Stock Purchase Plan.
You’ll contribute a portion of each paycheck to your ESPP and at the end of a set time (6 months or a year, for example), you’ll be allowed to purchase company stock at the lowest price during that period, often with an even greater discount, (10-20% below the lowest price). You can then turn around and sell the stock at a profit, or hang onto it to sell at a later date.