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How to Save for Retirement for Beginners

Chairs by a lake.

You’ve heard it before: You really should be saving for retirement. If you aren’t, then you should start. As soon as possible!

The thing about saving for retirement is that the earlier you start, the more money you’re likely to accumulate. Potentially, that means you can reach your goals sooner, retire earlier, or at least have more resources available to you post-retirement than you anticipated. But if you’re not saving for retirement currently, you may be wondering how to start. Here are a couple of easy ways that beginners can start saving for retirement.

And again, if you’re not already doing it, get started!

Opt-in to your 401(k) program

If you have a job at which you earn a paycheck, ask your employer if they offer a 401(k) retirement plan. If so, sign up and start contributing!

A 401(k) is a retirement plan that allows you to contribute a percentage of your paycheck, and invest it. Often, an employer will match your contributions (up to a certain amount) as well – it’s free money! The good thing about these plans is that the money is coming right out of your paycheck, and you never really even see it. As such, it’s not like you’re taking money out of your bank account, as you never see it to begin with.

You can put your savings and investments on autopilot, in a sense, using one of these plans. And again, the earlier you sign up and start contributing, the more time you have to take advantage of compounding and market growth over time.

Fire up an IRA

If you don’t have access to a 401(k) plan (or, if you want to double your retirement-saving efforts), you can look at Individual Retirement Accounts, or IRAs. You can open an IRA with a brokerage or bank (just look around, they’re offered all over the place), and these accounts let you start saving for retirement no matter who or where you are.

There are different types of IRAs, so it may be wise to consult a finance professional to determine which is best for you. But the big difference between an IRA and 401(k) is that you don’t need an employer to sponsor an IRA. Again, you can open one all on your own.

While both retirement plans have contribution limits, and rules regarding when or if you can take your money out of them, they are the easiest ways to start saving and investing for retirement. Especially for beginners.

A final note: If you plan on stuffing cash under a mattress and are counting on that to get you through retirement, remember that saving and investing are not the same. Many people are learning that the hard way as we deal with high levels of inflation for the first time in a generation.

And if you want to start looking at other ways to get your investing activities off the ground, there are numerous ways to do that, too. A retirement plan, though, can be integral to reaching your long-term financial goals!

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