It’s never too early to start planning for retirement – and it’s never too late.
In fact, the best time to begin preparing for your ideal financial future is now.
However, the right retirement and savings strategies are different at each stage of life.
To help you get an idea of where to start, here are the top money mindsets and strategies we recommend to help optimize your retirement over a lifetime.
Early Career & Young Families
When you first set out to build your career or start a family, there are multiple buckets of wealth you likely want to fill at the same time. You might want to save for a house, for example, while also paying down debt and contributing toward retirement. Learning to prioritize these financial goals will help you reach them efficiently and with confidence.
“We always recommend starting with an emergency savings, which should cover about six months of expenses,” explained John Vance, President and Visionary of Vance Wealth in Santa Clarita. “Ideally, you want these accounts to be high yielding but fully liquid.”
Next, John suggests contributing the maximum toward your retirement.
“If you’re still eligible, a Roth IRA or Roth 401k is a great option, and a Roth IRA has a provision that allows you to use some of this money toward a house if that’s also a goal of yours,” John explained. “After an emergency fund, retirement is really the next priority because no one will loan you money for retirement, so you need to make sure that money is there for you.”
That’s also why John rarely suggests prioritizing debt repayment over retirement savings. While high-interest credit card debt can be the exception, debts like your mortgage or student loans typically call for a more mindful – but not aggressive – repayment schedule.
Finally, don’t forget about long-term investments such as stocks, bonds or even real estate.
“When you’re younger, it’s easy to focus on living for today or saving for the next short-term goal, but that’s why a long-term plan is so important,” John explained. “If you know you’ve set aside money in all these buckets, it frees you up to spend more on travel or your next big purchase – because you’ve already planned for a financially secure future.”
A growing part of the population, the “sandwich generation” typically refers to adults who are supporting their children and their parents, to varying degrees, at the same time. As more and more people find themselves in this position, it’s crucial to have a long-term plan in place, especially when it comes to retirement.
“While this can be an emotionally taxing stage of life, it’s really important that you don’t let it become a financially taxing one, too,” John explained. “That means you must continue to pay yourself first, and the best way to do that is by contributing the maximum toward your retirement. If at all possible, avoid dipping into your retirement to support your kids or parents.”
Next, you may want to find ways to increase your liquidity or cash reserves, so you’re prepared to handle any unexpected expenses without relying on your other savings accounts, such as retirement.
Most importantly, you will likely need to set clear boundaries – for yourself and others – if you want to make sure you stick to these priorities.
“If you want to provide this support for your family because it’s important to you, please do this with your eyes wide open. Be clear how this may impact your financial plan and future,” John explained.
For example, you may have to postpone retirement for 3-5 years, but if it’s important to you, then you can plan for this change, instead of going into it blindly.
“This is when a clear financial plan is vital,” John explained. “It allows you to understand the boundaries and ramifications of your support, so you know exactly how much you have to give – and you’ll still have the resources to take care of yourself when the time comes, too.”
Once the kids have left the house and are working toward becoming independent adults, most parents have more time and energy to focus on what’s next for their own financial future.
“For so long, our time is dedicated to raising kids and caring for others, but when that changes, it’s natural to start turning your attention to what’s next for you,” John explained. “You may be ready to enjoy life more, or you may feel a little guilt about not prioritizing certain financial goals until now.”
Regardless of your current financial position, the planning process is incredibly valuable during this stage of life. It helps you see where you’re at, so you can start working toward where you want to be with purpose and confidence.
“While the best strategies will be unique to where you are and what you want most out of the next 30-40 years,” John shared, “there are a few general areas to focus on for a strong financial future.”
Again, retirement should be a primary focus, and if possible, increase your contributions to build your nest egg as aggressively as possible, especially if you feel like you’re not quite where you hoped you would be at this point. If you’re age 50 or older, you can begin contributing $1,000 more to an IRA each year.
In addition to funding your retirement accounts, this is a good time to review your investments with a long-term focus in mind. The right investment strategy can help you supplement your retirement funds by securely aiming to building wealth for decades to come.
“Regardless of your stage of life, current financial position, or retirement goals, the most important thing you can do is simply start thinking about how you want to optimize your financial future over the course of your lifetime,” John explained, “and you can only do that if you have a comprehensive and purposeful plan.”
Are you ready to plan your ideal retirement and financial future?
It’s never too late, and the best time to start is always now. To schedule your complimentary consultation with one of our Wealth Advisors, click here contact our office at 661-775-0950.
The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute investment advice and it should not be relied on as such. It should not be considered a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell a security. It does not take into account any investor’s particular investment objectives, strategies, tax status or investment horizon. You should consult your attorney or tax advisor.