Seems like everywhere you turn these days everyone is talking about saving for retirement. There are commercials, blogs, magazine articles, radio shows, podcasts…you name it! While these messages are probably more targeted at the baby boomer generation, adults of all ages should take note!
Most people in their 20s typically let these messages go in one ear and right out the other. After all, this is when you are just starting out as an adult. You are probably starting your family and building your career…retirement seems like a LIFETIME away! Many people think “Oh, I can worry about retirement later…I am still young.” Typically in your 30s retirement starts to seem achievable and you realize you won’t be chained to a desk forever so you start thinking that maybe you should be putting a little away every now and again. You may even really look at maxing out your IRA or 401k. People in their 40s and 50s really start to number crunch, especially in military families. The career span of an active duty service member wraps up usually at some point in their 40s, long before the average retirement age of our civilian counterparts.
In order to avert stockpiling mass amounts of money at the end of your career it is important to plan ahead. I learned this lesson at the ripe old age of 18. My parents had me later in life, so that meant that my dad retired while I was still in high school. I was able to learn about all their retirement planning and its importance at a young age. I decided right then that I wanted to retire as soon as possible. Ironic because I was just starting out in college and hadn’t even begun my career yet. I was fortunate that my dad took my then-boyfriend/now-husband and me down to his financial advisor to learn all about budgeting and retirement planning. Those few hours we spent in that office were enlightening and invaluable.
We immediately decided to set up our own Roth IRA. It was a good fit for us because we liked that we could draw out money penalty free to buy a house or pay for college. We left the office that day agreeing to put in $25 a month, and increase as we moved up in our careers. While it may not seem like a lot, it sure felt like a lot to a poor college student working part-time.
I didn’t realize at the time how important having my independent Roth IRA would be as a military spouse. As we have moved all across the country, and now around the world, I have been able to continue to save for my own retirement regardless of where I was working or if I was even working. I upped my own Roth IRA contribution to mirror what I would contribute to a 401k (as long as I stayed within the annual contribution limits for my Roth IRA).
If you need help getting started on planning for retirement, visit your installations Personal Financial Management office. They are there to help, and they WANT to help! They can help answer all your questions about the types of investments to make and even help you set up a basic budget. If you aren’t living near an installation, you can also access financial counseling services by call Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647. Just remember, regardless of whether you are working, you need to plan for your own retirement. Even contributing small amounts now, and increasing when you can, will help set you up for a smoother retirement!