I have found that I base a lot of my blogs and articles on conversations that I have had with clients and prospects over the years. Quite honestly, this doesn’t surprise me. Grandparents revel over their grandchildren, mothers dote over their only daughter, and I surround myself with people that turn into family. I have told people before that “you are preparing for your retirement, but I am fortunate to have experienced retirement thousands of times through the eyes of my clients.”
A couple of weeks ago, a young couple was referred to me. At 22 and 23 years old, this young couple has their entire life in front of them. They have big plans, hopes for a family, and large dreams taking them to all ends of the earth. However, as I have heard in question before, they were wondering: “How much money do we need to have saved before we retire?” As I usually pose that question back across the table, “Well, how much do you think you need?” The most typical response I get is 1 million dollars.
Now, the math on finding out how Dollar Cost Averaging can benefit you is pretty easy. If you invest $214/month, for 40 years, getting the stock market average over the last 50 years (approx.. 9%), then you will be a millionaire. However, is that enough and can a person persist in the positive habits of saving like that for 40 years? If you were to do a search on the internet with the question of how much should I be saving for retirement, you will get many correct answers. Answers like 15-20% are very common. Is there a better way to figure this out?
Well, as human beings, most of us are driven to do things toward an achievable goal. At 22 and 23, retirement is such a long term goal that seeing the finish line is too far off in the fog. Here is what I say to my young clients. Think of it like this. What bill will you always pay each month without question; most common answer, cell phone. So think of saving for retirement like a bill.
- Create an affordable amount that you know you can maintain even in tough times. Make it a “bill.” ($100/$200/$300 per month)
- Sporadically add to it when there are times of unpredicted income rises. (Tax returns/birthday gifts/bonuses)
- Annually review your budget to see if you can increase “the bill” portion of your regular savings.
- Keep the goal in your front view. Place pictures of your goals to remind you of your efforts and sacrifice. Share your goals with someone you trust.
- Team with a financial advisor aware of and guiding you to your long term goals.
Saving long term for a retirement is a marathon, not a sprint. The variables to your objective are many and complex. As I have said in prior articles, I will repeat again, don’t be to proud or to timid to seek financial assistance to these goals. Forty years can go by like that, and we all wish to finish this marathon with a medal.