No one can argue that the millennial generation faces big challenges when it comes to savings. Younger workers are dealing with record setting student loan debt, high housing costs and stagnant wage growth. It’s hard to save for retirement when you are worried about the next month’s rent. Here are five strategies to help younger workers get started saving for retirement.
1. Start Small
If you are just getting a foot in the workplace then there is nothing wrong with starting small. Time is something that you have on your side. Starting early can make all the difference, even with a very small amount of money.
For twenty-somethings, just starting out in the work place and looking to pay the rent, enjoy life and still save for retirement, there are options out there. Even a small salary deferral to a 401(k) or contribution to an IRA is worth considering. It is a small step in the right direction and it gets you into the saving habit early!
2. Participate in the Company Plan
If your employer offers a retirement plan, go ahead and participate. This is especially true if there is an employer match. Consider the employer match as part of your salary. Would you say, “no thank you” to 3% of your salary every pay period? Of course not! But that is what you are doing if you are not deferring enough to your employer plan to collect the match. Why turn down free money?
3. Watch Out for Retirement Plan “Leakage”
You can expect to change jobs many times over the course of your career. For the best retirement saving results, you will want to avoid “leakage.” When you change jobs, you will have access to your retirement funds in your old retirement plan. It may be tempting to take the funds and spend them. Don’t do it! Consider moving the funds into your new company’s plan, if the plan allows. You can also move them to an IRA and keep them tax deferred, or you can convert them to a Roth IRA.
4. Deduct a Traditional IRA Contribution
You may want to consider a traditional IRA contribution. Traditional IRAs offer the benefit of tax-deferred earnings. Many younger workers will be able to deduct their traditional IRA contribution. If a worker and their spouse, if married, are not active participants in a workplace retirement plan, their traditional IRA contributions will be deductible regardless of income. For active participants, or those married to active participants, deductibility will phase out at higher income levels.
5. Understand the Benefits of the Roth IRA
Contributing to a Roth IRA can be a great idea for a younger worker for many reasons. While contributions to a Roth IRA are not deductible, future earnings are tax-free if the rules are followed. There are income limits for making Roth IRA contributions, which are indexed annually for inflation.
You may be hesitant to contribute to a Roth IRA because you may worry that you could need the money for unexpected expenses down the road. No worries with a Roth IRA. Contributions are distributed from your Roth IRA first and they are always distributed tax-and penalty-free. It does not matter what you use the money for or how old you are.
Young workers have one huge asset on their side when it comes to Roth IRAs. Time. Years of smaller contributions can really add up; and remember, if the rules are followed, distributions from the Roth IRA will be qualified distributions. This means all earnings can be tax-free in retirement.