The stress of saving for retirement hanging over your head is a familiar struggle. Will I have enough money when I want to retire? Did I start saving early enough? Am I too far behind to catch up?
If your 401k balance is stressing you out, we have good news—saving for retirement isn’t as hard as you think. Here’s what you need to know about saving for your future.
1. Know the difference between a traditional and Roth 401k
First things first, decide what type of 401k plan you want. You have two choices— a traditional or a Roth 401k. The main difference between the two is that with a traditional plan, your contributions are pre-taxed so s you pay less in taxes every year. On the flip side, Roth 401k contributions are made after taxes. This means by paying taxes now, you’re protecting yourself from a potential increase in taxes by the time retirement rolls around. If your company offers both types of plans, decide which one works best for your lifestyle.
2. Know your company’s plan
If your company offers retirement benefits, make sure you fully understand what’s available to you. Find out if your company has a 401k match program, which matches any contribution you make to your retirement plan up to a certain percent. If your employer does offer this, make sure you’re contributing at least enough to take advantage. Otherwise, you’re leaving free money on the table.
3. Take into account how compound interest can help
Compound interest is a huge bonus to saving in a 401k rather than a regular savings account. If you aren’t exactly sure what compound interest is, it essentially makes you more money on top of money you are already investing. The longer money compounds in your retirement savings, the more it will grow over time. It’s also a great way to help you catch up if you’re feeling behind because it starts accumulating as soon as you start saving.
4. Learn how to stay on track
At any stage in your career, aim to contribute the maximum amount that you can to your retirement savings account. It’s recommended that 10% to 15% of your income should go to your 401k, but don’t stress if you can’t afford to part with that much. Set up automatic contributions so you can consistently contribute an amount you’re comfortable with from every paycheck without having to worry about it.
Saving for retirement isn’t as complicated as it seems. Start small and work your way up—your future self (and your future bank account) will thank you.