- I’ve become very focused on retirement planning now because I didn’t care enough to save in my 20s.
- I want to be young and wealthy when I retire, so I need to be particularly strategic in my planning now.
- Financial advisors told me to spend less than I earn, diversify, not follow trends, and more.
- Read more from Personal Finance Insider.
Lately, my friends are constantly asking me why I’m so obsessed with financial planning for retirement. It’s a topic I bring up in almost every conversation I have with them, sometimes without even noticing.
The truth is, after neglecting my finances for most of my 20s, I ramped up my plans tenfold. Not only do I want to have financial freedom now, but I want to make sure that when I’m ready to retire, I have the funds to live the kind of life I want to live.
I’m constantly asking everyone for advice on how to be rich by retirement, from friends to financial experts. While there’s varying opinions and tips out there, there are certain golden rules that are a smart idea to follow. Here are five of those rules to take into consideration.
1. Spend less than you earn
While it might sound obvious, Scott Alan Turner, a financial planner, says that one of the first rules you should adopt is around your spending habits.
“Yes, it’s cliche, however you can’t out-earn poor spending habits. A family earning a million dollars a year and spending $1.1M is still broke,” said Turner. “Set aside something every month for the future. Future-you will thank you.”
2. Take advantage of employment retirement plans
If you’re employed at a company with retirement benefits, Christy Matzen, a financial planner, recommends leaning into the options offered to you at your job.
“To be rich by retirement, you need to take advantage of your employer’s retirement plans, like a 401(k) or 403(b),” said Matzen. “But most importantly, ensure you are contributing enough to get any employer’s matching contributions to set yourself up for success.”
3. Diversify your investments
When it comes to planning for retirement, it never occurred to me that there were many different investment options. Doug Carey, a financial advisor, says that to be wealthy by retirement age, you have to diversify your investments.
“There are so many diversified mutual funds and ETFs these days, there is no excuse for not being diversified,” said Carey. “Diversify amongst companies and also countries — make sure at least a portion of your investments are international-based.”
“But by far the most important diversification comes from not having most of your money in a single company,” he added. “This is a terrible idea when it comes to retirement investing — the money one puts into a single company should be money a person can afford to lose.”
Ignore the financial circus
When you’re on the quest to build your net worth and long-term wealth, Turner says it’s important to filter out advice that might sound too good to be true.
“Tried and true advice based on academic principles doesn’t make the news — it’s boring, but it works,” said Turner. “Keep your investments simple and stick with stuff that has a proven track record. It’s really hard not to build wealth that way over time.”
Take a different approach when you’re young
If you start out your retirement financial planning in your 20s, or 30s, Carey recommends taking a different approach that could yield good results.
“When you’re young, invest nearly 100% of your retirement money in stocks,” said Carey. “Take advantage of being young and having a long time horizon before you need your retirement funds.”
Stocks can be risky investments for older workers, but the market will bounce back if the portfolio has a long time horizon.
“Stocks have always out performed bonds over long enough periods,” he added. “There has never been a 20-year period where stocks have underperformed bonds in the U.S.”