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Let’s say you’re 25 years old and you earned $35,000 last year. If your salary increases at the average historical rate, you may earn nearly $2 million by the time you reach age 65. That might sound like a lot – until you think about all the financial goals you may need to juggle in your lifetime, including paying off any remaining student loans, establishing an emergency fund, buying insurance, purchasing a home and paying for your children’s education – all the while funding your own retirement.
If managed wisely, your money could potentially go a long way. The key is to put a plan in place and stick to it. These tips may help get you started.
Get a jump on all your goals
You’ve no doubt frequently read about the value of getting an early start on building your retirement savings, even if you can only invest a little each month. The same goes for saving to pay for your children’s college. Even a $100 a month investment for college could potentially earn you about $36,000 in 10 years, assuming an average annual return of 8%.
Set aside a slice of your pay hikes
As your income rises over the course of your career, it’s easy to slip into a pattern of “living up” (i.e. freely spending that extra pay you lacked before). Instead, consider setting a quota for yourself: Earmark a predetermined portion of every pay hike and apply it to your savings goals. You may want to employ the same rule to tax refunds and windfalls, like a bonus or inheritance.
Use the right tools for the job
Just as your employer-sponsored retirement plan offers a tax-advantaged opportunity to set aside money for your later years, certain vehicles, such as 529 college savings plans, provide potentially attractive tax breaks for college savers. Whenever you can, minimize the taxes you have to pay up front on investments and earnings. And look for ways to enable your money to grow by compounding over time.
Finally, whatever your particular financial goals may be, keep in mind that minimizing your debt is a timeless, indispensable strategy for establishing personal financial balance and well-being.
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