Chances are your retirement will be much different than your parents’ retirement. As pension plans quickly go extinct, most Americans must rely on a more do-it-yourself approach to financially prepare for their golden years.
Whether it’s a 401(k) through your company, 403(b) for educators or 457(d) for public employees, these employer-sponsored plans are basically the same except for small details here and there. No matter what your plan is called, however, maximizing its performance relative to your own level of risk tolerance and financial goals is critical in preparing for your own retirement. Here are a few quick tips to help you gain the most benefit from your employer-sponsored retirement account.
1. Take Advantage of Allocation and Age-Based Funds
For those who view the typical investment or financial vocabulary as a foreign language, allocation and age-based mutual funds can take much of the mystery out of finding investments appropriate for your specific needs. Either of these types of funds provide a level of convenience and well-diversified investments according to particular levels of risk and time horizons. Whether you’re young or old, conservative or a risk-taker, these funds offer solutions for every type of investor.
2. Maximize Any Employer Match
Some employers will even match an employee’s retirement contributions, often on a dollar-for-dollar basis, up to a particular threshold. In other words, it’s possible that your employer will pay you to invest in your own retirement. Be certain to ask your HR department if your organization offers any such benefit.
3. Stay with Your Employer Until You’re Fully Vested
Of course, the free money from an employer match comes with strings attached. Employers almost always require employees to stay with an organization for a certain number of years in order to keep their matched funds. Once again, ask your HR department about your organization’s vesting schedule to find out what the time requirements are for your plan.
4. Stick to Your Plan
Watch the news on any given night and you’re bound to find at least one story that will make you want to bury your money in the backyard. However, whether the markets are surging or plummeting, try to keep emotion out of your retirement investing and stick to your strategy. While you might get lucky once in a while by moving in and out of the market depending on what’s going on in the world, you’ll ultimately do far more harm than good by investing according to your emotions.Investing for your own retirement doesn’t have to be complicated. Stick to these simple tips and consult a financial advisor for professional guidance to best prepare for a financially stable retirement. Empower yourself, take control of your financial future, and create the retirement of your dreams.
Jeremy Wallace is founder and chief investment officer at Wallace Hart Capital Management, an independent financial services firm committed to offering comprehensive advice and customized services. Jeremy has 20 years of experience in the financial industry and is passionate about helping clients preserve and enhance their wealth so they can pursue their passions. Jeremy graduated from Emory University with a degree in international economics and a certificate in financial planning. Outside of the office, Jeremy spends most of his free time with his wife, Julie, and their three children, Isabel, Lincoln, and Reid. He is an avid Chicago Cubs baseball fan, and he enjoys golfing with his wife and traveling with his family. Learn more about Jeremy by connecting with him on LinkedIn.