Getting Started with Investing

For many of us in our 20s we look at retirement as far away. We picture being old, gray and bored with driving an RV around the US to bird watch as the only option for diversion. Most of us would rather spend our money now on cocktails and killer outfits to enjoy our youth.

Lets have a little perspective. Say you’re 25 now and you start putting your $5000 per year into a Roth IRA and keep it up through the years. If you get an average of 10% return for your savings, your balance will hit the $1 million mark by age 55. Not too shabby.

Now how to get there? Of course it’s all different depending on your individual situation. One achievable goal is to save 10% of your gross income. Where should you save it? I just mentioned a Roth IRA, which is great but don’t forget your 401(k) if your employer offers one. Many times employers match your contributions, so find the paperwork and get it going now. Don’t pass up free money.

Often, employers match up to 3% of your contributions, so plan to put away your 3% and you will still have 7% left for other options. Next, look into a Roth IRA. These are great because you can take out your contributions at any time without penalty and when you retire you won’t have to pay taxes on the money you withdraw (more on Roth IRAs to come.) In 2008 you can put $5000 into your Roth which is $417 per month. If that hasn’t put you at 10% of your gross incomeawesome! You have lots of other options including putting more into your 401(k).

When I think of retirement, I’d rather use the phrase “financial independence”. Being financially independent means you don’t have to work anymore. You could if you wanted to, but you’re not chained to the income stream created by a job any longer. You can travel and bird watch if you want to, but you if you start planning and saving for your financial independence now you could be in a position to take a cruise around the world, spend an entire week at a “day” spa and even get there earlier than the standard age 65.

Now you know, but what will you do with it? Act now and start your financial independence!