If you're like many millennials, you haven't been in the working world for very long — and you may even have just recently started your career. Like most people of your age, retirement seems so far in the distance that you have no immediate plans to begin an individual retirement savings program. Other factors may include heavy student loan debt and the skyrocketing cost of living in many of the nation's urban areas, and if you're affected by either or both of these conditions, you're probably thinking that you need to take care of your immediate needs before stashing anything away for the future.
However, now is the perfect time for you to start saving for retirement even if all you've got to put toward it is five dollars per month. Even though it's not much, it'll add up over time and help you get into the habit of saving money. Following are five things you can do to help ease the pinch of preparing for your retirement years.
Freelance for an Extra Income Stream
Taking on part-time work on top of holding down a full-time job used to mean slogging to a restaurant, bar, or retail outlet to pull an after-hours shift once or twice per week. This is still an option, but many find this sort of work to be physically as well as psychologically draining. After all, it's hard to be your best self on Monday morning when you've spent the weekend working with annoying customers or pulling late-night shifts. Thanks to technological advances, the freelance scene has exploded in the past decade or so, and those with skills such as writing and design can easily pick up freelance work that they can complete within their own time frame.
Work for a Loan Forgiveness Provider
Student loans are possibly the biggest impediment to saving money for many recent graduates who are just beginning their professional journey. However, working for certain nonprofit or government organizations can make you eligible for something called the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which will result in a significant reduction of your student loan debt. If you work at a qualifying job or series of qualifying jobs for a 10-year period, you'll make income-driven loan payments during that time, and the remainder of the loan will be forgiven once you pass the 10-year mark. Any job with the United States government qualifies, but working for government contractors does not. Qualifying nonprofits include those with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
Incentives also exist at the state level. For instance, Connecticut, Nebraska, New York, and Kanas have developed federal tax breaks designed to help recent graduates who are struggling with student loan debt.
Develop a Workable Savings Strategy
One of the reasons why many millennials who try to set up a savings system fail is because they don't develop a workable strategy. Many start out with high ambitions, which often creates a situation where they're trying to put aside such unrealistic amounts of money that they abandon their plans within several months. The way to circumvent this scenario is to carefully track your expenditures for several weeks and devise a realistic plan for cutting expenses that doesn't involve living a completely Spartan lifestyle. For instance, if you normally grab a latte before work, cutting that down to once or twice per week allows enough degree of self-indulgence so that you won't feel deprived. Even if the only place you can make cuts is in your latte expenditures, set up an automatic payment system where the funds you'd normally be spending coffee are deposited directly into your account.
Professional financial planning can provide you with a customized game plan that will get your retirement fund off to a great start.