With conflicting images of millennials as either living in their parents basement forever or striking it rich with an artisanal organic food truck, it’s clear that retiring like a millionaire seems unlikely for most members of this new generation of young adults. However, it is possible for those in their twenties and thirties, if they adopt smart habits including a frugal lifestyle, regular savings and the power of time. Here’s a study that proves it is possible: of the 1,000 Fidelity clients with more than $1 million in their Fidelity-managed 401(k) accounts, most earned less than $150,000 annually.
The one thing that all 401(k) millionaires have in common, according to a Forbes’ article “Nine Ways To Be A Millionaire In Retirement,” it is saving at a much higher amount than others. Whatever your career path may be and whatever your earnings level is, start saving early.
While millennials often have a competing priority with paying student loan debt, it’s still important to make sure some of your money is going into retirement.
Live like a college student. Even if you are making very little, you should “mind the gap” – that is, the gap between what you spend and what you earn. Make sure there is a gap and keep your expenses low. Try to live like a college student when you’re earning your first salary. Maybe have Ramen noodles and hot dogs on at least some evenings.
Track and evaluate. If saving seems like a task that is impossible to fathom, just look where your money is going. Take a three-month period and track all of your spending. You can use a tool like Quickbooks, Quicken, Mint, or, just use a debit card for all expenditures during that time so that your finances are automatically tracked. Keep track of where you spend your money, with that data, categorize things.
Slowly bump up your contribution rate. By the age of 25, you should be contributing at least of 10-15% (including your employer match) to your 401(k) savings plan. In order to ramp up to that contribution amount, start small (such as 6% if possible), then increase that percentage every six months.
Match…no, but really. Contributing enough to your 401(k) to take advantage of your employer’s full match is one of the most effective personal finance tactics.
Check your “vest”. If you’ve been taking advantage of your employer’s 401(k) match, take a look at your company’s vesting schedule. All of the money you put into your retirement account is yours, but you have to be fully vested to keep all of your employer’s contributions.
Talk to an expert. It always helps to talk to an expert. Estate planning attorneys are always ready to assist you.
The most important thing is to start saving early.
Reference: Forbes (October 9, 2015) “Nine Ways To Be A Millionaire In Retirement”