What do homes, education, and retirement all have in common? They are major life milestones that require advance planning and saving large amounts of money. That amount of advance planning and money saved that is needed may make you doubt your ability to reach these goals. Even if you don’t feel that way today, you may have in the past or may in the future.
The good news is that there are ways to plan and save for these major milestones in a way that aligns with your values and current life situation and still sets you up for success. Keep in mind:
- Make a plan for how much you need to save and when you want to have that money saved. The America Saves Pledge and the Spending and Saving Tool are both resources that can help with your planning.
- Whenever you have more than one goal that you are working on at the same time, it’s important to prioritize them. Yes, you can save for retirement and education or retirement and home ownership at the same time. You just may need to allocate a greater percentage of your available money to save more for one goal over another.
- You get to decide which goal is the most important to you right now and you can use that decision to guide your plans. And this can change over time.
- When tough times happen, and they will at some point, it’s OK to set aside some saving goals. If you lose your job, you may need to forgo continuing to save for your retirement and child’s education until you find a new job.
- Do your research. Having the right information for your personal circumstances can help you more confidently plan and execute that plan.
- With retirement you want to understand what savings vehicles you have access to through your employer before seeking resources for individual accounts. You also want to have a reliable calculation for the money you need saved and what the best investment options are for you.
- With home purchases it’s important to have an idea of the type of house you want and in what area so you can research prices. You also want to know your credit score to understand what types of mortgage rates you can qualify for.
- When saving for education, 529 College Saving Plans are one of the best options available as the money grows tax free and is not taxed when withdrawn if it is used for qualified expenses.
- With any of these goals, utilize automatic saving vehicles wherever possible. Typically, employer defined contribution retirement plans use automatic deductions from your paycheck. You can also direct an investment company or your financial institution to set aside money each month for retirement, home down payment or education accounts.
With all these goals, while the sooner you can start saving for them the less you will have to save each month, recognize that your situation will determine when you are able to start saving. Delaying when saving for education may mean you need to take out more in loans. Delaying saving for home ownership or retirement may mean you have to wait longer to buy a house or work longer before you retire. These are your choices to make.
Confidence comes with knowing you have done your research, consulted with professionals, examined your current situation, made some predictions for future saving opportunities, and recognized that as life unfolds you can adjust your plans.