Teaching Your College Graduate About Retirement Saving

Teaching Your College Graduate About Retirement SavingIs someone in your life graduating college in the coming weeks? If so, one of the best gifts you can give them – other than a celebratory dinner and a little bit of cash – may be good advice. Specifically, you may want to explain why beginning retirement planning right after graduation is a smart move. After all, they could potentially be starting a new job in the coming months, meaning they may need a bit of insight on the best way to put their paycheck to work.

Sure, receiving retirement advice in their early 20s may not seem like a stellar gift now – but chances are they’ll thank you down the road. After all, as Investopedia notes, one key to establishing a solid retirement plan is starting to save as early as possible.

If your graduate needs some convincing, The Wall Street Journal lays out some persuasive math: Assuming an 8 percent annual rate of return, a 25-year-old who saves $10 a day will have $1 million by age 65. However, if they start at 35, they’ll only have $445,000. If they wait until 45, they’ll only have $180,000.

With that in mind, here are a few things you should share with the college grad in your life to help them find financial success during their later years.

Make Deposits Into an Employer’s Retirement Plan or Roth IRA

The most important part of retirement saving is…well, saving. If your graduate lands a new job right out of college, they may be tempted to rush out and spend those first paychecks, but Kiplinger notes that they should enroll in their employer’s 401(k) or other payroll-deduction plan.

When it comes time for a pay increase, The Wall Street Journal suggests putting half of the raise into a retirement fund. And when they leave that job for another one, the paper advises telling your graduate to always roll their old retirement fund into a new one, rather than cash out.

If your graduate lands a job with an employer who doesn’t have a retirement savings plan, Kiplinger suggests opening an IRA. Remember that for 2013, the maximum IRA contribution limit is $5,500, up from $5,000 in 2012.

Take Advantage of Employer Matching

Saving for your retirement is great – but having someone else pitch in is even better. The Wall Street Journal advises graduates to put enough into their 401(k) to get a full, dollar-for-dollar employer match – an investment with a 100 percent rate of return.

As for how much they should put away, Kiplinger notes that one should aim to save 15 percent of their gross income (including any employer match).

Learn Good General Financial Habits

Knowing the ins and outs of IRAs and 401(k)s is great – but a strong retirement fund is built by learning and practicing a wide range of good financial habits.

The Wall Street Journal advises graduates to enroll in a personal finance course that can teach them all about being smart with their money. Meanwhile, the work website Careerealism notes that being responsible with credit cards allows your graduate to focus on retirement saving, so consider having a conversation about making good decisions with credit.

What other financial advice do you have for a recent college graduate? How old were you when you started saving for retirement?

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