Sunday, January 10, 2010

If You Could Retire, What Would You Do?

Friday night brought forth an interesting conversation with co-workers: If you were retired, what would you do?

At first I thought, "Gee, thats a dumb question! I would do everything I've ever wanted to do." But then I started to think more about it. Today, 60% of people haven't thought about how much they will need for retirement. That also means they don't know if they are saving enough, or anything at all! Research also shows that a majority of Americans will only save through mandatory savings-Social Security. And we all now how that program has been going with the baby boomers nearing or at retirement age! You can read more about savings trends in the U.S. here. Essentially, most people will not be able to do anything when they retire because they will probably make less than what they did while they were working. That is sad. Very sad.

It's difficult to say to someone reading this blog, you need to have X amount of money saved before you can choose to quit working. I can't do that, but I can tell you that you should probably look at what you want to do when you retire now so you can plan for it. And I would advise for you to think big, just so you'll have money to do what you really want to do when you get to that age (hey, things change!).

Saving for retirement: I have a 401k. That should be plenty right? Wrong. Let's use me as an example. My 401k started when I was 21 years old. So even if I don't max out my contribution each month, I will still make a hefty amount over my lifetime. But if it isn't at least $1,000,000 then I won't consider it enough money. I will need to open an IRA. This is separate from my 401k and I will probably need someone to manage it for me (I'm not investment savvy..). Which, as long as I make a lot of money, I don't mind paying someone to make my money grow. The next goal is to max out the yearly contribution for these.

The big challenge is to not take out money from these accounts, penalties hurt and in the long run its like stealing money from yourself that you haven't seen yet. Investments grow faster when more money is in the account. So lets just watch it from a distance. You'll appreciate it when you decide to travel around the work at 70 years old.

So this goes back to my conversation I had with co-workers, what do I want to do when I retire...? I would want to travel and continue to make my money work for me. I would also hope that I have the health and mind to do all of the things I wanted to do over my lifetime but couldn't because of my job, or my family, or other goals that I had. I would make sure to volunteer. This can allow for more traveling if I work my cards right. I would be decorator, play music, take classes, maybe even open a restaurant (where I can work when I want)....I would want to do everything. And right now, at the ripe young age of 23, I know that I have the power to make this happen by investing in my future.

I would hate for my answer to be, "Worry about how I'm going to pay my bills."

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