Here’s What it Took to Help My Millennial Colleague Plan Her Million-Dollar Nest Egg
I’m a nosy person, so I elbowed my millennial colleague, Jessa, in the next cube over, and asked her, “Pssst… How much do you save for retirement per year?”Instead of ignoring me, she furtively Slacked me all of her financial details (it was like a giant ice cream sundae for a finance nerd): * Jessa, at 28, still owes $15,000 in student loans, and her husband, who is 30, still owes $20,000. * They owe $12,000 on their car loans. * Jessa and her husband have a $200,000 mortgage. * She currently saves $0 toward her retirement plan. (Sorry, but that’s not enough, friend.) * She and her husband need help from Facet Wealth — a virtual full-service financial planning service with dedicated certified financial planners.According to a survey by Bank of America, a surprising 16% of millennials between the ages of 24 and 38 now have at least $100,000 saved for retirement.Whooo hooo! That’s cause for celebration. But what about Jessa? What does she need to do to get out of debt and save enough for retirement?Why Millennials Struggle to Save for Retirement Why do millennials like Jessa struggle to save for retirement? 1. Housing costs: The No. 1 response (37%) for millennials is the cost of housing, according to the Retirement Pulse Survey. 2. Supporting family members financially: Millennials often support extended family members with their income. This doesn’t even involve the amount you need to save to put kids through college — remember, financial aid doesn’t cover everything. 3. Not enough income: The State of Our Money shares that more than half of millennials (55%) don’t have a retirement savings account, such as a 401(k) or IRA. About 46% said unemployment was to blame. 4. Student loan debt: As of September 2017, the average graduate from the class of 2016 owed more than $37,000 in student loan debt, according to Student Loan Hero. “Yep, yep and yep,” she said, when I showed her these numbers. “We hit three of these four categories. I just can’t afford to put money in my retirement account right now.”What My Millennial Colleague Needs to Do — and Here’s What You Can Do, Too! Feel like the percentages stack against you? Here’s what to do next.Tip 1: Analyze interest rates. As soon as I said the words “interest rate,” Jessa flopped over in her desk chair and pretended to fall asleep.I knew Jessa and her husband refinanced their home this past fall, and I asked her about their interest rates. She was paying only 3% on their home and student loans. I suggested asking Facet Wealth if they should invest in retirement more aggressively than pay down debt on their loans. (It’s what I would vote for!) On the flip side, if you have high interest rates on your own student loans, I’d suggest asking Facet Wealth about paying off debt if your loans carry a higher rate than your investments earn before taxes. Tip 2: Consolidate those student loans — but there’s a catch. Consider consolidating student loan payments only if you can lower your payment without stretching out your loan term. In Jessa’s case, she could use the extra money to start compounding her retirement savings.Tip 3: Get cracking on that retirement plan. Jessa must save at least 10% of her income. It’s the rule of thumb cited by most financial advisors and other money experts. If Jessa doesn’t want to struggle to keep her head above water after retirement, she needs to invest 10% of her income each year. And none of this “invest just enough to get the employer match” crap. In most cases, that’s not enough retirement savings for most people and it won’t scratch the surface toward creating a hefty nest egg. Tip 4: To get really rich, invest at least 15%. If Jessa wants to get really rich as a passive investor, she’ll invest at least 15% of her income. She won’t get Warren Buffett rich, of course, but if she wants at least $1 million in liquid assets beyond her home value, she’ll shoot for saving 15%.That goes for anyone who invests for retirement. Tip 5: Never, ever borrow from your retirement plan. You can lend yourself money from your retirement account, but it’s not a good idea. Jessa’s retirement plan is off limits, and so is yours. Assume that money is in lockdown. Period.Why? * You lose compounded growth on your earnings. * You repay the loan with after-tax money, which means the interest you pay will get taxed again when you withdraw it at retirement (unless you borrow from a Roth 401(k). * If you leave your job, you’ll have to repay the loan, typically within 60 days of leaving. If you can’t, you’ll owe taxes on the balance and a 10% penalty as well if you’re under 55.You don’t want to mess with all that.Tip 5: Take time to review what options are best for you. Once you’ve got retirement savings under control, you may want to take a look at other potential opportunities. Maybe Jessa and her husband want to dive into real estate investing or get cracking on several side hustles. Whatever it is, she needs to make sure it’s worth her time and energy and can contribute toward her long-term goals.Tip 6: Do your own research. Jessa is a proud graduate of a liberal arts college, which means she’s a lifelong learner. Here’s another thing she’ll do to maximize her success: She’ll read everything she can get her hands on. She’ll research funds and options within her 401(k), read investing books, books about real estate, articles about destroying debt and more. She’ll absorb blog posts, listen to podcasts and develop her own investing philosophy. She’ll be her own advocate when it comes to her own needs, risk tolerance and more, and you can, too.How Much Retirement Money Should You Aim to Save? Jessa is 28, but millennials span a wide range of ages — from 24 to 38. Check out the rules of thumb for savings at each age.Savings Goal for Your 20s Accumulate 25% of your overall gross pay during your twenties. You might need to lower this amount if you’ve amassed a giant amount of student loan debt. Savings Goal for Your 30s Have at least one year of salary saved by the time you turn 30. If Jessa makes $100,000, she should have $100,000 saved. Savings Goal for Ages 35 to 40 Those of you on the mid-thirties end of the millennial spectrum should have double your annual salary saved. You should have four times your yearly salary saved if you’re 40. Steps to Get There If she’s serious about getting out of debt and saving enough for retirement, Jessa must do these three things.Step 1: Get started. This article won’t help — if she (or you) do nothing about it. You must take action if you truly want to save enough and get out of debt. It takes time and discipline and not even very much money per month (depending on your age).Step 2: Invest aggressively, automatically. Two facts: * If you start at 24, you can have $1 million at age 69. All you need to do is save $35 per month — and get a 10% return on your investments. Save more, and you’ll become a millionaire more quickly. * If you start at 40, you can save $1 million by saving $561 per month, assuming a 10% return. I informed Jessa that since she has $0 saved for retirement at this point, she can start saving at least $158.15 per month for 40 years with a 10% return and still be able to become a millionaire.$158.15 — that’s the cost of a pair of new shoes each month, I informed her. Get Facet Wealth on Your Side Nobody ever says, “Be your own doctor.” Why would you assume, then, that you should be your own financial advisor (unless you’re a financial analyst or advisor)?You need Facet Wealth, which can help you achieve a more prosperous life by helping you work with a dedicated CFP® Professional at an affordable price.Jessa informed me that she’d signed up for our company retirement plan and also made a plan for getting out of debt the very next day.I bought her a cupcake and set it on her desk. It was cause for celebration.See more from Benzinga * Click here for options trades from Benzinga * 8 Must-Know Tips for Getting a Background Check on Your Work-from-Home Employee * 2021 Crypto Preview: Here’s What’s Coming Next(C) 2021 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.