I was 47, when I started in a full-time permanent job where I could take advantage of the 401K employer/employee match from 2000-2005. Within five years, my 401K was at $10,000.00 when I left my job due to management restructuring. The last year (unaware I was about to lose my job at the end of the year) I signed up to save 10% because both my husband and I were working full time.
In the seven years since then, it had grown $9000.00. That may not seem like a lot of money, but with the rocky economy, it is a reasonable rate of return.
I pulled the top $8700.00 out last year to pay bills, and it's already grown almost $3000.00 since. I will be 59 1/2 this June and can, if I so elect, I could take out $100.00 per month income from that IRA (which I rolled my 401K into the IRA upon leaving my job). Although it wouldn't last an indefinite amount of time, it could make the difference of making it through a tough spot in the road. The more one can save, the faster the investment grows like a snowball going down a hill.
In my case, I was uneducated about saving in a matching 401K (although in years past I had opportunity twice to do so). I also lacked opportunity until my job in 2000-2005, as millions of people are facing today as well. If I was able to start all over again, I'd have started much sooner.
A heart attack (and complications to follow) and severe osteoarthritis and asthma retired me. But my situation has a happier ending than for some. I was awarded disability, yet, without my IRA account, if I found myself alone again and didn't have my husband's income to fall back on, that $100.00 would mean a huge difference in my ability to survive in today's economy.
My husband is 69, and has worked since he was fifteen. When he got a job in printing (30 years), he too took advantage of the matching program. His income has quadrupled in the eighteen years we've been married. It's self-sustaining and he can draw a percent out each month without touching the principal, along with his Social Security and my Disability.Finally, we still donate 12% of our joint income and still enjoy a reasonable lifestyle. It in itself makes sense. If you take care of the people around you and Christian organizations like your local church, it's obvious at least to my husband and me that God takes care of us in our time of need.
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