If you read or watch the news today, you will likely hear how millennials are much worse off than previous generations. Ridden with obscene student debt, they also face a very difficult job market, as it is the highest educated generation with more competition for jobs. Even worse, there are endless headlines posing the question as to whether the millennial generation will ever be able to retire.
On top of such daunting thoughts, many college graduates aren’t given the proper tools and education for financial literacy. A BNY Mellon survey found nearly half of millennials do not understand how pensions work and most do not prioritize retirement saving as they focus on enjoying today, paying off student debt, paying skyrocketing rent prices, or saving for a home—all tasks which were less challenging for young adults 20 years ago.
Regardless of these challenges, retirement saving should be priority for all millennials. The following tips are quick, true, helpful and not too difficult to tackle.
- Begin saving for retirement ASAP—it is never too soon.
- If your employer offers a 401k, take advantage of it. These contributions are tax exempt (until you withdraw the funds in retirement), and by not taking advantage of it, you are essentially giving up free money from employers who often offer matching.
- Even if your employer does not offer this benefit, open up an IRA.
- Keep it simple. Retirement saving does not need to be complicated. Many employer plans provide access to professionals who can manage plan decisions for you, based on factors such as age and salary. All you really need to understand is the younger you are, the more time you have to recoup any losses from investments, thus the higher risk investments you should be pursuing. Let the professional make the hard decisions for you.
- Once you decide on your contribution and investment plan, forget about it. There is no need to aggressively check your progress in the short term and drive yourself crazy.
If you know a millennial struggling with these decisions, encourage them to be proactive about their retirement savings and let them know it is not as difficult as they may think.