When I turned 35 I had a sudden, and scary, realization. According to many books and financial advisors, the age of 70 is the best year to retire because you will collect the maximum benefits from everything.

I just thought ‘Oh my goodness – I am halfway there! Am I doing everything I can to ensure my future is secure?” As I would typically do, I started reading up on everything I could about the best ways to retire.

The advise was pretty consistent and made perfect sense. Because this is a very important topic and knowledge everyone should know, I decided to summarize everything I learned in quick, digestible chunks.

I hope this helps. #stayinspired that we will all have a great retirement!

Retirement

In your 20’s: If your company has a 401k, participate in it. See if your company provides a match, it’s even better. If it doesn’t offer a 401k, open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Goal for both is to put 15% of your salary away. Also, use debit cards and cash – you don’t want to get in unnecessary debt. Regarding  credit cards, do your best to pay them off every month.

In your 30’s: These are the years we start talking about/having families. Things to really consider are determining if a parent stops working. Remember this is a personal choice, but after 2 years staying out of the labor market hurts the person’s future earnings. Depending on your career category, 6 months could have an impact, too. It’s important to factor the cost of child care into your decision to have a family, also. When it comes to mortgages, if possible, get a 10 year one. You should also try and make a 20% down payment. This will save a fortune in interest and you will get a good rate.

In your 40’s: These are the consolidation years. Embrace and love your lifestyle and the stuff YOU ALREADY HAVE! Prioritze that mortgage (if you have one). Paying it off is savings for you. College for your kid may be a topic of conversation. Do not be seduced by big name private colleges. How many people can really afford $400k for college and save for retirement? Prepare yourself to choose a college that fits the needs of your child and is financially appropriate for your situation.

In your 40’s and 50’s: Not always thought of as a financial investment but get a check on your health. This will save you health care costs in your 60’s and 70’s. Eat right, have an exercise routine, and take care of your self-care (mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually). If you discover you haven’t saved during your career, now is the time to save 50%. That means you  are going to have to go cold turkey on spending to have money later. Bear in mind, this is the time when you need to improve your work skills because if you lose your job it will be more challenging to get a new one. Bite the bullet and learn new things (social media literacy, etc.), make sure you have good communication/people skills and keep up with technical skills.

In your 60’s: Use your 401k to delay collecting Social Security till that magic age of 70. That’s when the government will pay the maximum benefit – put it this way, it will be 76% higher than it would have been if you had started collecting at age 62. You will now have a finite amount of money. Stop giving handouts. Make financial plans and live a life within your means.

Retirement 2

Resource: I am a HUGE fan of Money Magazine: http://time.com/money/ They have great articles on personal finance. I hope you find them as a great resource, too.

Side note: If you are anticipating an inheritance that is great, but let it be a nice surprise. Don’t assume it will happen. Anticipating and relying on money gifts is not a smart play in a financial plan. Also, if you win the mega millions or Powerball, you can disregard everything I said 🙂