You're only 20 years old. Why would you start planning for retirement this soon, especially considering that your generation probably won't be able to retire until you're 70? If these are the primary thoughts that go through your mind when you hear the word retirement, you need to recalibrate. Planning for retirement in your 20s is vital, and it could even mean you get to retire earlier than your peers. Here are a few tips to guide you in your retirement planning at this point.
1. Take advantage of employer matching.
Does your employer offer a 401(k) matching option? Basically, this means that if you invest a certain percent of your income into a retirement account, your employer will match that amount. So the money you invest really counts as double! Find out what percent contribution your employer matches -- 5 and 10% are common — and talk to human resources to ensure that percentage of your income is withheld from your paycheck and invested directly.
2. Stick with higher-risk investments right now.
When you are in your 20s, you can afford to take more risks with your investments than you can later on in your 30s and 40s. With more risk comes more reward, of course! This does not mean you should invest all of your money in new startups that barely stand a chance of surviving for three years. It does, however, mean that your 401(k) funds should be primarily invested in stocks at this point, rather than bonds. As you grow older, you can move more and more of the money into bonds to reduce the overall risk of your profile.
3. Put your windfalls into an IRA.
In addition to the 401(k) offered by your employer, you can also open an IRA, or an independent retirement account. A good way to fund your IRA at this point, when you probably don't have a lot of extra income, is to make it the place you put any windfall (unexpected) money. This includes your tax return, a generous birthday gift from a parent, or a holiday bonus from work. Even putting an extra $1,000 per year in an IRA will really boost the amount of money you have at retirement, thanks to compounding interest.
It's never too early to save for retirement. In fact, the sooner you start saving, the better. For more advice, reach out to a retirement planning advisor in your area.