For most 20-somethings, the idea of retirement isn’t front and center. It isn’t even a glimmer. But it ought to be. This is especially true for young people today, many of whom believe that Social Security will not be there for them when they retire. When you’re young the most valuable resource you have is time.
Time provides you with the power of compound interest. Albert Einstein called it the “greatest invention of all time. ” For example, a 25-year-old who starts saving just $600 a year could have $72,000 at age 65, nearly twice as much as someone who saves $1,200 a year beginning at 45, according to calculations by LearnVest, an online financial-planning service.
Retirement may be 40 years away, and your paycheck may small, you may have rent to pay and student loans to pay off, but saving even small amounts early on can make a big difference. Many employers offer 401(k) plans that offer a company match, which is “free money” to the employee. The money grows tax deferred, or if it’s a Roth plan it grows tax free. These plans are often among the single biggest pools of funds that people have to draw on when they retire. If you don’t work for a company that offers some kind of a retirement plan, start your own by contributing to an IRA or a Roth IRA. The best time to begin was yesterday, the second best time it today.