Beginner’s Guide to Retirement

Save well, retire well.

Coming up with a retirement plan is tough. If you’re employed, you have to add retirement planning to your normal job responsibilities, in addition to any family responsibilities you might have. And if you’re unemployed, figuring out how to save can seem difficult when just paying daily expenses is more than enough to think about.

To make retirement planning a bit less stressful, we’ve compiled a few of the most popular retirement questions, along with insightful answers to those questions.

Do I Need to Start Saving for Retirement Now?

Yes. It’s worth the time and trouble of finding how much of your budget you can devote to retirement. You never know what’s going to happen in the future.

Retirement savings aren’t just for going on vacations or replacing your income source after you retire. A modest retirement account can pay for medical expenses, moving from one home to another, or simply paying for help with tasks you are unable or unwilling to do when you’re older.

Even if you plan on working for the rest of your life, a retirement account is worth it to cover expenses. Social security and pensions aren’t sure things, but putting a bit of your own money into an account you can check up on whenever you want is. Check out CNN’s retirement guide to get started.

Am I Too Young or Old to Start Saving for Retirement?

No. If you’re young, that just means you have more time to save, even if what you’re able to save each month doesn’t seem significant. Those dollars add up, especially if you’re putting money into a 401k account that your employer matches. After a certain point, the interest you earn on your savings will generate interest of its own. This is known as compound interest, or ‘interest on interest.’ See investopedia’s compound interest article for more information.

And there is no age too old to start saving. Having something in that account when you come of retirement age is better than nothing. Try to find ways to balance your budget to make larger savings contributions possible.

Traditional vs. Roth IRA or 401K

An IRA , or Individual Retirement Account, as defined by Wells Fargo, is simply “a type of savings account that is designed to help you save for retirement and offers many tax advantages.”

A 401k, on the other hand, is a retirement account offered by your employer. In many cases, the employer will match a certain percentage of your contributions.

There are two types of retirement accounts, whether IRA or 401k: traditional and Roth. The difference lies mainly in the type of tax benefit each choice offers. Roth accounts will be distributed free of taxes and other penalties when you access them in retirement. You just put money straight into the account from your paycheck after taxes have been deducted. With traditional IRA accounts, you don’t pay taxes on contributions, instead taxes are paid on investment earnings when you withdraw funds.

You don’t really have to choose between one type of account or the other—as Time notes, both are great for different times in your career.

  • It all depends on what tax bracket you’re in right now. If you’re going to end up in a higher income tax bracket when you retire (meaning you’ll be making more money, and have a greater amount of that money taxed), you’ll want to opt for a Roth account, paying the relatively lower taxes now.
  • If you’re older, and don’t anticipate large increases in pay in the future, you might want to opt for a traditional account, paying lower taxes when you retire in a lower tax bracket.

Can my retirement savings be garnished?

In most cases, retirement savings are protected from garnishment. However, in certain situations, such as past due child support or unpaid federal taxes, a court order could make your retirement savings subject to garnishment. In short, the answer to this question depends on your individual situation.

Have any other questions about retirement? Let us know in the comments below!

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