Even if retirement is a long time away, there are steps you can take now to make sure it happens eventually. But sometimes, it’s the steps you aren’t taking that can have the biggest impact on your financial goals. Here are three signs you’re sabotaging your own retirement.
1. Avoiding the Topic
Whatever your plans for the future, you need to think about it. Even if you think you are too young or making too little money, you can’t afford to avoid the topic. Consider how you picture retirement — at what age you want to leave work, whether you want to travel, whether you plan to downsize, etc. The answer to these questions can help you determine how much you need to save for retirement.
If you are married or in a long-term relationship, you’ll want to discuss your retirement goals with your significant other. You don’t have to agree on everything, but you want to be aware of what you are both aiming for and how you are planning. Revisit retirement plans every few years — and even more often as retirement age draws near.
2. Not Saving
Putting off retirement saving can leave you coming up short. Starting saving early gives your money the most time to grow. Compounding interest means you can put less money in early on in your career and end up with more money for retirement. Basically you are allowing your money to earn interest and that interest can then start earning interest.
Set goals to put aside at least some money each year, even if it isn’t a lot in the beginning. Then every time you get a raise or a bonus, pump up your savings. Ultimately, you want to be maxing out your contributions.
3. Being Forgetful
Many companies offer 401(k) or similar plans to help you save for retirement. When you start a new job, you may feel overwhelmed with paperwork. Sometimes participation is automatic, but employees frequently fail to change the default contribution to a percentage high enough to help them reach their retirement goals. In addition, leaving the contribution at the default rate potentially leaves an employee match on the table. It’s essentially turning down free money.
Another way being forgetful can hurt your future retirement is when you switch jobs. You don’t want to lose track of your savings, so make sure you keep track of all your separate accounts. You can consider rolling over the 401(k) from your old job to your new account so it’s all in one spot.
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