Whether you have been spending your post-college years paying off mounds of student debt or have been trudging your way through your first round of corporate jobs, it is easy to put off investing and saving for retirement for many reasons. It goes without saying that talking about saving for retirement is not the sexiest topic in the world. However, once you understand the true value of investing as early as possible, you will quickly be more smitten with your potential to have a sexier retirement than you ever imagined.
If you need to hear it from a professional, listen to the advice of David Giertz, a leader in the financial services industry with more than three years of experience in wealth management and financial advising. Giertz says that the most important piece of advice he gives to clients under 40 is to max out their retirement account contributions no matter what. Most companies give you the option to have contributions automatically deducted from your pay. This is the best option for most people because even with the most amount of financial discipline you can muster, it will always be easiest to part with money that never actually hits your bank account to begin with.
Giertz also recommends that young professionals focus on living a lifestyle that is below their means. The sooner you start developing sound financial habits, the easier it will be for you to maintain them through your career progressions. It can be extremely tempting to celebrate your significant raise with an upgraded ride. This is probably not the best use of your newfound salary, however, because a car is a depreciating asset and cannot earn you money in the long-term. As a general rule of thumb for major purchases, you should never take on a debt for an item that you cannot pay at least six months in advance. This guideline gives you enough of a cushion that you would be safe if you had to go without a salary for a brief period of time.
The next piece of crucial advice from Giertz is along those same lines. Giertz tells all of his clients that they should have an emergency cushion of at least six months for their necessary expenses in case that rainy day eventually comes. Given that the job market has not exactly bounced back to the pre-recession levels, it is better to be safe than sorry in this regard. To build your emergency fund quickly, Giertz tells his clients to try to cut back as much as possible on discretionary spending for as long as it takes to accumulate those funds. This will give you peace of mind that you will not have to assume expensive credit card debt in the event that you lose your job or have a major unplanned expense. Credit card debt costs you more than just monthly interest payments. It can also damage your credit score and keep you from buying a house when you would like to.
These big mistakes will result in smaller Social Security checks
Finally, before you delve into the mysteries of day trading and feel the pressure to learn all the nuances of the stock market, Giertz reminds his clients that the real focus is on long-term wealth accumulation. As an investor, you should not necessarily be taking an active role in managing your investments because it requires a level of attention to detail and an in-depth knowledge of the markets that few people have the skill or desire to fully acquire. Instead, you will probably be much better off in retirement if you find an investment adviser who is worthy of your trust to invest the majority of your savings. It may take some shopping around on your part to meet an investment adviser or financial planner who you feel comfortable trusting with your savings. There is nothing wrong with going to more than one consultation with to make sure that you get the right fit. Think of it as a form of speed dating, except that the stakes are literally your entire net worth. When you put it that way, investing a few hours in some initial conversations doesn’t seem like such a terrible idea. The best part is that you won’t even have to pay for dinner. Follow David on Twitter for more tips @david_giertz.