April is National Financial Literacy Month—the perfect time to spring into action when it comes to planning your financial future. If you already have a plan, this is a great opportunity to take another look at it and make sure you’re still “on track” to reach your financial goals.
According to a 2013 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, the past few years have seen a sharp decline in Americans’ confidence about their retirement savings. Only 13 percent of workers feel very confident about having enough for a comfortable retirement and 28 percent are not at all confident. More than half of workers have less than $25,000 in total savings and investments. Twenty-eight percent of workers have saved less than $1,000.
If you haven’t begun saving for retirement, now is a good time to start—no matter what your age. If retirement is near, you’ll want to jump into the fast lane right away. If you’re younger and retirement seems a lifetime away, it’s still in your best interest to begin saving now. Here’s how much the magic of compound interest will work to your advantage. For example, a 25-year old who begins saving $100 a month and earns a modest 5 percent interest will have more than $150,000 at age 65. Save $200 a month and you’re looking at more than $300,000. Experts agree that saving when you’re young will make a world of difference when the time comes to draw on your retirement savings.
Don’t just take our word for it. You can check out the numbers yourself. A great way to start figuring out how much you will need for retirement is to use Social Security’s online Retirement Estimator, which offers an instant and personalized estimate of your future Social Security retirement benefits based on your earnings record. Try it today at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.
We encourage saving for retirement, but there are reasons to save for every stage of life. A great place to go for help is www.mymoney.gov (the official U.S. government’s website dedicated to teaching Americans the basics of finances.) Whether you are looking for information about buying a home, balancing your checkbook, or investing in your 401(k) plan, the resources on www.mymoney.gov can help you.
The Ballpark Estimator at www.choosetosave.org/ballpark is another excellent online tool. It makes complicated issues, like projected Social Security benefits and earnings assumptions on savings, easy to understand.
If you have to choose between scrubbing down the house or scrubbing your budget to get your financial house in order, we recommend putting off the cleaning one more day. Get started on planning your future right now at www.socialsecurity.gov.
Jennifer Cooper has been with the Social Security Administration since 1982. During her career she has held a number of positions, including Service Representative, Claims Representative, and Operations Analyst before coming to Redding in September, 2010 to be District Manager. She is a graduate of Shasta High School.