Retirement investing is like going to the doctor for an annual checkup: We all know we should do it, but it’s easy to make excuses and skip it. Many of us fail to realize that it’s rarely as painful or difficult as we imagined it would be, and the benefits are always worth it. Here we debunk a few common excuses some people use to justify not investing for retirement.
You don’t know where to start. This is one of the most common excuses and it’s understandable. Investing can seem complicated, especially to a beginning investor. But building a nest egg doesn’t need to be complicated. Anyone can begin investing for retirement by setting up an automatic payment system, which will send a fixed amount to your investments each month. This is easy to do with an employer-sponsored retirement plan such as a 401(k), or you can set up an IRA with a financial institution. If you don’t know which investments to purchase, consider starting with a target-date fund, and then think about moving your money into different types of investments once you learn more about investing. The key here is not to let a lack of expertise prevent you from starting to save.
Investing is risky. Investing has many risks, but it is not as risky as not investing. There are many ways you can deal with investment risk, such as maintaining a balanced portfolio or moving a larger percentage of your investments into low-risk fixed securities such as a bond fund. If risk is a major stopping point for you, then meet with a financial adviser for recommendations about which investments will be best for your situation.
Retirement saving is for old people. Yes it is, but it’s also for young people. In fact, your monthly savings requirements are smaller when you begin investing at a young age, making it easier to fit retirement saving into your budget and keep it there. You will also have decades to let compound interest work on your behalf, giving you more time to grow your money.
It’s too late to start investing. It’s never too late to start investing. You may not be able to reach the retirement of your dreams, but you can still improve your quality of life for your golden years. Take advantage of 401(k) and IRA catch-up contributions, delay taking Social Security benefits, and consider working a few extra years. You will appreciate the larger nest egg when you decide to retire.
Saving for retirement is selfish. I’ve heard this several times, usually from people who are worried about saving for college for their children or those who have friends or family who are in financial straits. Some people feel that saving for an event more than a decade or two away is selfish when they can do things with the money now. But it can also be argued that not saving for retirement is selfish, since you will be forced to rely on other people when you enter retirement. Retirement investing is actually one of the most prudent uses for your money once you have your immediate and short-term needs taken care of. The goal is to find a balance between your current standard of living and saving for the future.
Whatever the excuse—ditch it. These are only a few of the common excuses people use to avoid saving for retirement. Regardless of the reason you choose not to invest, my recommendation is to just jump in and do it. It might seem complicated at first and you might make some mistakes, but you will also learn a lot along the way. And if you follow a few basic investing principles, you should make some money.