4 tips to help you save for retirement in your 20s

October 28, 2021

Retirement planning is easily overlooked early in your working years as you focus on paying down debt, buying a home or starting a family. Life is busy, and everyday expenses are high.


What you may not realize is the impact today’s spending and saving habits will have on your retirement.

If you’re saving money for a down payment on a house, making payments on student loans, planning for a wedding or just paying for life, retirement planning may not be high on your priority list. The problem is, long-term investing for retirement is far more effective when you start young than if you try to play catch-up.

Here are four tips that can help you begin saving for retirement in your 20s.

1. Find extra income to put toward retirement

One of the easiest ways to save extra income for retirement is to make a pre-tax contribution through a workplace retirement savings plan, such as a 401(k), if you have access to one. Even better, some employers offer a match up to a certain amount.

You don’t have to find large amounts to put aside initially. The important thing is to start saving early.


2. Prepare for the unexpected

Where will you find money to cover a financial emergency? It’s possible to use your retirement savings, but this can negatively affect your progress. Instead, work on establishing an emergency fund that has about six months of living expenses in it. Take a close look at your expenses and set an appropriate emergency fund contribution each month.

If budgeting is too tight, an emergency fund can also provide some backup savings you can dip into without touching your retirement accounts. If you’ve used up your emergency fund, be sure you backfill that account when you’re able to.


3. Focus on retirement when possible

Once you’re satisfied with your emergency fund, consider reallocating more money toward your retirement savings. If you’re already meeting your employer match on a 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan, consider increasing your contribution by 1% on a yearly basis. If you get a raise, there’s a good chance you won’t miss that slight increase. Keep applying that small increase until you’ve reached the maximum contribution you can make.

And, if you’ve already maxed out your 401(k) contribution, consider opening a traditional or Roth IRA.

Don’t forget your retirement accounts are quietly working for you through the compounding of interest over time. Even a hundred dollars here or there has the potential to grow to a significant amount over a number of years.


4. Keep working

Remember that you’re at the start of a long journey and it takes time to work toward reaching your retirement goals. Retirement planning is a deliberate process that doesn’t happen by chance.

Work toward building your savings whenever you can and remember the concept of compound interest can work in your favor when you start early. If you still have questions or as your circumstances change, consider working with a financial professional to get personal advice.


Get more retirement savings tips in our saving for retirement checklist.

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