Retirement is a goal for many workers across the country. If we can just make it through the grind for 20, 30, 40 or more years, we can retire and live on Easy Street. But there are many myths associated with retirement that can mean the reality doesn’t always match up with the expectation. Here are some of the common myths.
1. You Have Plenty of Time
People often discuss when they want to retire. Some people say they enjoy work and want to continue forever. Others aim for early retirement. But either way, this thinking assumes you have control over the timing of retirement. This isn’t always the case.
Layoffs or medical conditions may take the timing of your retirement out of your control. This doesn’t mean you should throw your hands up in despair. But it does mean that retirement might come at a time you don’t expect or necessarily want.
This means saving can’t be put off. Putting off saving for retirement because we can always put off retirement for a year or 10 is a risky strategy. It’s still a good idea to have an ideal retirement age and a concept of how much you will need to save in order to make that goal.
2. You’ll Never Get There
On the other hand, don’t let the fact that retirement isn’t entirely within your control stop you from saving. The earlier you start saving, the better. This will give your money more time to grow and it will get you used to setting aside some of your paycheck to save.
Even small amounts of money can get you on the path to a successful retirement. Saving is possible, even on a small salary, as long as it’s a priority. Try paying yourself first. Set up automatic deposits so your money goes into retirement accounts before going into your checking account.
It’s a good idea to sign up for an employer account if you are eligible and to contribute at least enough to get the company match (if offered). Sign up when you start a new job and if the company auto-enrolls you, check to see that you are contributing enough, not just the base amount.
3. You Can Do What You Want
In a dreary workday when projects are stacking up and time is short, retirement seems like a dream — a never-ending vacation where there is no boss and we can all do what we want. Some people assume they will travel the world but don’t realistically factor this into their saving style. Most retirement saving is designed to replace current income but if you are looking for a lifestyle that you can’t afford currently, you may have to find another way to fund it (giving up vacations now or taking on another job).
On the other hand, some people get bored without the structure of a job. There are ways to avoid this problem — factor in hobbies, projects you are passionate about or part-time work into your view of retirement.
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