5 Things the Retirement Fairy Wants You to Know (If She Existed)

You don’t need to worry about retirement. Stop stressing and enjoy your life, already. Work and die; that’s all you have to do. In fact, we have a secret to tell you: There’s a tiny retirement fairy who will deposit money into a savings account set aside just for you. When you’re ready to retire, just send an email to your employer, and your human resources department will let her know it’s time to transfer the funds. Ha ha … we’re just messing with you. There’s no retirement fairy. But if there was a fairy overseeing your retirement, she would have a few very important things to tell you. Here are five things the retirement fairy wants you to know.

1. The retirement fairy is not going to help you

Woman dropping coins in a jar

Woman saving money by dropping coins into a jar | iStock.com

You have to take responsibility for your retirement. You won’t retire and then just have a savings account with all the money you need to stop working and live a comfortable lifestyle. One person who can help you, however, is a certified financial planner. He or she can assist you with developing a realistic plan so that you can reach your retirement goals.

2. You’re running out of time

man hitting his alarm clock to sleep in

Clock | iStock.com

You don’t have as much time as you think you have. Start contributing to a retirement account as soon as you get your first job. You might be young, single, and carefree now, but before you know it, you’ll be married with a couple of kids and a mortgage. Start planning now.    

3. Your retirement number is most likely wrong

Retirement plan with graphs and glasses

Retirment plan | iStock.com

The amount you think you need to retire comfortably may not be correct. A TIAA study revealed that many retirement savers don’t have a realistic view of how much money they will need to retire well. It will be important for you to get as close to your real number as possible so that you can avoid having to work longer than you anticipated or returning to work. If you need help figuring out your number, you can meet with a certified financial planner. You can also take advantage of one of the many retirement tools available.

4. Your 401(k) isn’t a piggy bank

Broken piggy bank with coins & hammer

Broken piggy bank | iStock.com/wpd911

Start beefing up your emergency savings fund instead of relying on your 401(k) to bail you out. Taking a hardship withdrawal should be your last resort if you’ve fallen on hard times. Know that you won’t be able to receive a hardship distribution unless your employer offers it. So don’t bank on your 401(k) funds coming to the rescue.

5. Stop putting your kids first

Smiling student holding a book in library

College student | iStock.com

You love your children and you would do anything for them, including emptying out your savings account so they can attend a good college. However, this won’t be a good long-term plan if you ever hope to leave the workforce. Tell the kids they’ll either have to work a part-time job, go to a less expensive school, apply for scholarships, or take out loans. You, on the other hand, don’t have as many options as your children do, so if you have to make a choice put your retirement ahead of college financing.

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