Even though your retirement years may seem like a long way off, it’s never too early to start saving for retirement.
Whether you’re just entering the job market, are on the road to entrepreneurship, or are planning to go back to school, here are five things you can do in your 20s and early 30s to set yourself up for a comfortable retirement.
1. Kick the credit card habit
The sooner you can stop relying on credit cards, the easier it will be for you to stay debt-free and put more of those hard-earned dollars into a retirement savings account.
Kick the credit card habit when you are young so that you don’t have to worry about carrying a heavy debt load and making unnecessary interest payments in the years ahead.
2. Be consistent
Get into a habit of saving a percentage of your monthly income and separate your retirement funds from other accounts. Don’t worry if you aren’t able to sock away large chunks of money. Even if you’re only saving $25 or $50 per paycheck, every little bit helps.
Besides, you can always increase your savings levels as your income rises. Plus, at this phase in your life, it’s more important to simply develop the discipline that regular savings provides.
3. Be mindful about discretionary spending
A common trait among successful retirees is that even when times were good, they were fiscally conservative, and typically lived below their means. By contrast, individuals who are unprepared for retirement usually engaged in more liberal spending, and were more likely to splurge during good times.
While it’s fine to splurge now and then, you also need to create a realistic budget and be a conscientious spender so that you aren’t ignoring your savings account.
4. Secure a higher-paying job
Even though you might just be entering the job market or working your way up the corporate ladder, keep your career options open and develop skills that will help you secure a higher-paying job. A higher salary with nice retirement benefits, such as matching contributions from your employer, will make it easier for you to build up that retirement nest egg.
5. Work with a financial advisor
Unfortunately, only 15% of employees between the ages 25 and 34 believe they will have enough money to live comfortably during their retirement years, according to a 2013 Employee Benefit Research Institute survey.
To help avoid this fate, and to boost your retirement confidence, work with a good financial advisor who can answer your investment-related questions and provide you with the overall guidance you need as you age and your personal or financial circumstances change.
But by using the strategies outlined above, you can lay a strong financial foundation — one that helps you create the retirement of your dreams.
Lynnette Khalfani-Cox is a personal finance author and co-founder of the free financial advice site, AskTheMoneyCoach.com . Follow Lynnette on Twitter @themoneycoach and Google Plus .
Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) has sponsored this post for information purposes only. Lynnette Khalfani-Cox is unaffiliated with TIAA, College Retirement Equities Fund, and their affiliates and subsidiaries (collectively TIAA-CREF), and TIAA makes no representations regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information on this post or otherwise made available by her. Ms. Cox’s statements are solely her own and are not endorsed or recommended by TIAA. Please note that investments pose risks and you can lose money.