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Start planning for retirement now

by Shelly Awaya, staff writer

Most of us in college are working toward a degree that will enable us to get a job in a field that interests us, and one that will allow us to earn lots of money, of course. Many of these students are working while going to college, work being a way to pay for the education that will take them further.

Those students who have a regular income surplus may want to put some of it away so that when it’s time to retire, they have a nest egg that will allow them to do other things besides work at a part-time job because they didn’t save when they were younger. Now is not too soon to start planning for the future.

 
 

Talking to a financial advisor may seem like a huge step, but finding out how much money it will take for a comfortable retirement once you are in the career of your choice will save you a lot of headaches down the road.

Financial advisors can help you create a portfolio of finances that are diverse, yet won’t strap you for cash in the present. They can take all of your expenses and future financial goals and formulate a plan that accommodates your lifestyle so that you aren’t starving or living without hot water.

Here’s a couple of tips to jump-start your retirement savings if you don’t have the time to see a professional right now: If your attitude is to “not spend so much money,” change it to a more positive goal and call it the “start to save more money” resolution.

When you get a raise at your job, don’t increase your spending. Put the “raise money” into a separate account and have your financial institution transfer the money into that other account on a monthly basis. That way, you won’t necessarily “see” the money, so you won’t really miss it either.

Some companies participate in 401K plans. If your employer does, sign up for it even if your company doesn’t match your contributions. Even if the company contributes 25 cents to each dollar that you put in, that’s still 25 cents that you didn’t have before. Look at it as free money—like finding loose change on the ground in a parking lot —regularly.

Another way to save is to start an IRA. Your financial institution will explain the differences between a traditional or Roth IRA, and it’s worth the time to invest in one of these accounts. The early withdrawal penalties are also a good deterrent to make you think twice about touching the money once it’s in the account.

Other ways to save are naturally to cut down on excessive expenses that you may not need. For example, if you have a coffee maker at home, learn to live with instant coffee like Folgers or Taster’s Choice instead of opting for Starbucks.

Fast food can get pricy too. So what if you bring a home lunch to college? It doesn’t have to be in a brown paper bag. Plastic is OK. You can even start a retro trend with the metal Spiderman or Strawberry Shortcake lunchboxes.

The bottom line is: less is more. It may not seem that way now, but later on, down the line, saving now may be one of the smartest things you’ll ever do for yourself. This may sound selfish, but investing in your financial future now will allow you to experience so much more once you retire. You can travel the world, become a member of an exclusive country club, you can even volunteer at places because you have so much free time on your hands. You will be able to accomplish all of this because you took the time to plan ahead. Who else will do it for you?

 

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