27 June 2006

Men Don't Know Jack About Retirement

....or anything else, for that matter. That's our little secret. Let's hope the women folk don't find out.

MONEY Magazine's recent article discusses the lack of retirement savings savvy inherent in men. The article, of course, fails to mention that women don't seem to know any more about retirement than men do. So, maybe, they should have retitled the article "Nobody Knows Jack About Retirement."

I don't claim to know everything about retirement, but I know a few rock solid facts:

  • There is no reason to not start a retirement savings plan. It doesn't matter how old you are -- as a matter of fact, your money has a longer period to earn for you the earlier you start. No matter what, if you haven't already....get started in your employer's 401k/403b plan or start a Roth IRA.
  • In almost all circumstances, it is not advisable to take an early withdrawl from your retirement plan. You will likely be on the hook for a penalty and outstanding taxes. On top of that, you no longer have that money working for you to grow over time for your retirement.
  • If your employer offers a match, you should at least contribute the amount to which your employer will match your contributions. In other words, if your employer will match your 401k contributions up to your first 5%, then you should at least save that much. The money that your company matches is like making 100% on your money right from the get-go.
This article focuses on what to do when you reach retirement age. I am still a ways away from that, so I am less concerned about what to do 30 years from now than I am with what I am supposed to do today. I am concerned with building my pot of gold as best I can. Even with the relatively low salary that I make, I have always contributed as much as I can possibly afford. I have tried to maintain an aggressive approach to investing; which, for me, means investing primarily in growth stocks, international investments, and some real estate. I figure that I am relatively young, and even if my whole nest egg were to evaporate tomorrow, I still have enough time to save for retirement (less time, but I would still have time).

I don't know if I am going to pass any quizzes from MONEY Magazine any time soon, but I am pretty sure that my retirement planning is one of the few financial things that I have done right over the years -- when so many other things have been wrong!

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