The years following college aren’t always known for savvy financial moves. Call it a pipe dream, but what those years should be known for is investing. On the long, long road to retirement, saving throughout that decade is kind of like putting an extra engine in your car. Here are five tips to help you invest in your 20s.
Accept your employer’s generosity
If your company offers a 401(k) match, you should contribute enough to get the maximum, or work your way up to that. If a 401(k) isn’t an option, see if you meet the income requirements for a Roth IRA. It won’t give you a tax break on contributions, but it offers something potentially better: You won’t pay federal taxes when you pull money out in retirement.
Make risk your friend
Many millennial investors make the mistake of avoiding risk. Don’t. According to a Vanguard analysis, a portfolio of 70 percent stocks and 30 percent bonds had an average annual return of 9.1 percent between 1926 and 2015. Those who played it safe and stuck strictly to bonds saw a return of only 5.4 percent on average within that same period.
Keep it simple with index funds or ETFs
The best way to invest in stocks or bonds is through index funds or exchange-traded funds. They mimic the performance of an index that tracks the performance of a portion of the stock market The idea is to invest in several of these funds within your 401(k) or IRA to build a portfolio that includes U.S. stocks, international stocks and a small allocation of bonds.
Get help managing your money
An index fund makes investing easier, but if you still need help, consider a target-date fund. This type of fund adjusts to take less risk as you age. You can pick one by using the date in its name, which is supposed to line up as closely as possible to when you plan to retire. So if you’re 25 now, for example, you’d add around 40 years and pick a fund tagged 2055 or 2060.
Incrementally raise your savings rate
Starting where you are is just fine, and if that means contributing $100 or less, at least you’re putting away something. But over time, you need to save more, as $200,000 does not a retirement make.
To figure out how much you should shoot for, use a retirement calculator, preferably one that gives you a monthly savings goal. Then work your way there in little jumps.