Listen up ladies because this one’s for you.
My friends get tired of hearing me preach this but I won’t stop: You Need To Be Saving For Your Future. At the very least that means saving for retirement. “But Emily I’m only 24, I don’t need to worry about that yet” Yes, you definitely do pal. Remember back in high school math when you slept through the lesson on compound interest? Basically, it means that when you put money away it earns a return right? Well if you take that return and continue to re-invest it, year after year your money grows at an increasing rate. Waiting even five years to start saving WILL cost you many thousands of dollars – like minimum 50K – That’s a whole year earlier you could retire! Check out this calculator.
And guess what? As a woman it’s even more critical. We make less money than men, we live longer, we often leave the workforce for a while as caregivers, changes in marital status tend to cost women more than men, and we don’t trust financial institutions. Oh, and millennials as a whole are extremely risk averse. With all these factors going against us, we need to be saving as soon as possible and as smart as possible. First, here’s how we should think about the word risk when it comes to investing: it’s unsafe but necessary. You need to remember that with something like a 401K you’re going to be investing with it for decades. Therefore, a little (or a lot) of risk when you’re younger is not only a good thing, but a necessary one. As you age, you should move your investments into safer, less volatile investment vehicles. The recession in 2008 was scary but those who left their investments alone during that period are now enjoying higher returns than before the economy fell!
Second, most employers will match some of what you contribute to your 401K. That’s FREE money. For example, my employer matches 75% of what I contribute up to 8%. Did I mention that’s FREE money? Plus, your contributions are tax deductible! So here’s your action item for today: start putting money into your 401K. Experts say that ideally you should be saving 10-15% of your income for retirement. I’d suggest that if you’re just beginning, you contribute enough to take full advantage of the company match. If that’s not feasible right now then do as much as you feel comfortable, even if that’s just 1%. You can step up the amount by a percentage every time you get a raise and you won’t even be able to tell. And to those of us with loans, that’s not an excuse! While paying off loans is important, so is saving for the future that you worked so hard taking out those loans for! Seriously, one percent, you won’t even miss it.