Retirement advice for Millennials and Gen Xers
You don't have to save like your parents. If you're decades away from post-work years, new approaches can help you gain sought-after financial security.
Experts often say that it's never too early to think about retirement, but traditional retirement savings advice is proving less effective for younger generations. They have different (and more) college debt obligations than their parents or grandparents, delaying long-accepted milestones such as buying a home or planning for retirement.
Part of the problem might be that what worked for parents and grandparents doesn't work for their adult children and grandchildren. According to Investopedia, another issue could be that about 45% of Millennials might not have access to retirement plans sponsored by employers. How can Generation X and Millennials carve out their own approach and take actionable steps to create a more secure future? Consider these tips to build a just-for-you retirement roadmap.
Treat yourself like a freelancer
If you have a job with retirement benefits, great. Save the max that you can but save at least as much as you need to get the employer maximum match — in other words, set it and forget it. Then approach retirement as if you're not employed by someone else and set up your own personal retirement savings plan.
To set some goals for yourself, Nerdwallet recommends to have annual retirement savings of 10% to 15% of your income. You can also use the guidance provided by a retirement calculator.
Crowdsource a support group
When it comes to setting any goal, having someone (or something) to be accountable to helps make us feel better and stick to our goals. If it works for book clubs and exercise, it can also work for retirement. Gather a group of like-minded people to motivate each other and discuss goals and obstacles. You needn't share bank account totals, but you can discuss approaches and difficulties with money. You may even pick a philosophy, such as the newly popular FIRE (financial independence, retire early) movement. FIRE adherents kick debt payments and savings into overdrive in the hope of retiring super-early, and their stories may inspire you and your friends to refocus on a savings-heavy lifestyle.
Know that your retirement will be different
What was once retirement wisdom is changing quickly, say personal finance experts. For example, standard advice was to withdraw no more than 4% of retirement savings per year, but now experts recommend a 3% limit. In addition, many of the figures created as retirement milestones were designed with 30 years of retirement in mind. In addition, with the global pandemic, a survey done by MagnifyMoney in late 2020 shows that about 64% of Americans now think they might be working after retirement, including millennials. Working in retirement provides one way to reframe your approach to retirement itself as well as retirement savings, especially if you consider retirement as three stages: the go-go, slow-go and no-go periods. At first, younger retirees take a go-go approach, spending more on an active lifestyle. Later years may find spending and traveling slowing down.
However you approach it, know that doing something every year to help build your retirement savings will help you establish regular savings habits and work toward building wealth and freedom for whatever your post-work years look like.