Saving For Major Milestones
What do homes, education, and retirement all have in common? They are all major life milestones that require advance planning and saving large amounts of money. The amount of planning and money necessary may make you doubt your ability to reach these goals. Even if you don’t feel that way today, you may have in the past or may in the future.
The good news is that there are ways to plan and save for these major milestones that align with your values and current life situation and still set you up for success. Keep in mind:
Whenever you have more than one goal that you are working on at the same time, it’s important to prioritize them. Yes, you can save for retirement and education or retirement and home ownership at the same time. You may need to allocate a greater percentage of your available money to save more for one goal over another.
You get to decide which goal is the most important to you right now and you can use that decision to guide your plans. And this can change over time.
When tough times happen, and they will at some point, it’s OK to set aside some saving goals. If you lose your job, you may need to forgo continuing to save for your retirement or child’s education until you find a new job.
Do your research. Having the right information for your personal circumstances can help you more confidently plan and execute.
With retirement, you want to understand what savings vehicles you have access to through your employer before seeking resources for individual accounts. You also want to have a reliable calculation for the money you need saved and the best investment options.
With home purchases, it’s important to have an idea of the type of house you want, and in what area, so you can research prices. You should also know your credit score to better understand what types of mortgage rates you can qualify for.
When saving for education, 529 College Saving Plans are one of the best options available as the money grows tax-free and is not taxed when withdrawn for qualified expenses.
With any of these goals, utilize automatic saving vehicles wherever possible. Typically, employer-sponsored defined contribution retirement plans use automatic deductions from your paycheck. You can also direct an investment company or your financial institution to set aside money each month for retirement, home down payment, or education accounts.
With all these goals, the sooner you can start saving, the less you will have to save each month. But recognize that your situation will determine when you are able to start saving. Delaying saving for education may mean you need to take out more in loans. Delaying saving for home ownership or retirement may mean you have to wait longer to buy a house or work longer before you retire. These are your choices to make.
Confidence comes with knowing you have done your research, consulted with professionals, examined your current situation, made some predictions for future saving opportunities, and recognized that as life unfolds you can adjust your plans.
SOURCE: America Saves Week. America Saves Week is a time-honored event; a national opportunity for organizations to work together within their communities to transform the lives of millions of Americans by encouraging them to save successfully. The America Saves pledge is the framework that allows savers to set a goal and make a plan to achieve better financial stability.