(ThyBlackMan.com) We’ve all heard the scary stories about the unsustainability of Social Security. We all know that, for those of us who came along after the Boomers, we’re going to spend more years in the workforce than our parents and grandparents likely did. But what many people reading this article know is that we are more than likely to end up having to work our entire lives to keep making ends meet. But what if we didn’t have to?
For those of us who aren’t Robert Johnson, Don Peebles, or Ulysses Bridgeman Jr, the idea of retirement can seem like a pipe dream. But what if it doesn’t have to be? What if there were steps you could take now–even seemingly small ones–that could help set you up financially in your later years? We looked into it, and it turns out there are plenty of things you can do right now–even if you’re financially strapped–to start saving for later. Here are some of our favorites.
There are vast amounts of resources out there for people who want to learn how to save and invest properly. You can check out books at your local library to help you learn the basics. You can take classes at your community center or local community college. You can find a mentor through sites like Simpler Trading. Choose whatever method works best for your learning style and begin building your expertise.
Start Saving Now
The easiest way to start saving, believe it or not, is to start tucking away your spare change at the end of the day instead of keeping it in your wallet or pockets. Now, we know that most people rarely carry cash anymore but hear us out. If you do have physical money, get a jar or some other container to serve as a central spot for your change and stray dollar bills that turn up in the wash. Whenever it gets full, take that container to the bank and cash it in–but don’t take the cash! Deposit the amount into your savings account.
For people who rarely carry physical currency, make these transfers electronically through your bank’s website. At the end of the day round your checking account up to the nearest dollar and transfer the “spare change” to your savings account. Simple, right?
Obviously just siphoning off the “spare change” won’t help you save up enough for retirement on its own. This is why you have to take more concentrated steps to save. This means setting up high-interest savings accounts and actual retirement accounts.
The easiest way to do this is through your employer. If your employer offers a 401(k), opt in! Send 5-10% of every paycheck to that account. If your employer doesn’t offer a 401(k) (or other retirement account options), or if you work independently, set up an IRA. These accounts can be set up relatively quickly and, like with a savings or other account, you can send 5-10% of every paycheck to that account.
Note: Some IRAs have annual contribution limits. Make sure you understand what those are before opening the account!
Once you get the hang of saving and have a good sized “nest egg” set up, it is time to start investing. There are lots of ways to do this. Some people opt for real estate investing. Others choose bonds. Still others might go into commodities trading. The best investment portfolio is a diverse portfolio, but you don’t have to invest in everything all at once. Begin with one type of investment. Then, as that investment earns money, take your profits and fund another investment. This is what those suits mean when they say “use your money to make money.”
If you’re already living paycheck to paycheck (and who isn’t these days) don’t panic or give up hope. This is where side gigs become a necessity. Most people have at least one sort of income-earning side gig. It might not earn much, but a little something is better than nothing. Start looking around for work you can do in your spare time or between your other jobs. Freelancing, designing, surveys, driving…there are so many ways to take advantage of the gig economy.
The point is this: instead of resigning yourself to work until you’re dead, start taking steps to save and make money for the future. The more you do now, the better able you will be to enjoy your golden years.
Staff Writer; Jerry Martin