Financial Resource Center

Retirement Planning

4 Reasons Young Adults Save for Retirement

by Consumer Engagement Editors / February 6th, 2021

If you’re in your twenties, you’re either graduating college, starting your career, or building a life of your own. In theory, you’re likely making the least amount of money you will ever make in your career. This comes with both challenges and opportunities.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that among those who earned bachelor's degrees in 2018, the average salary is between $74,000 (computer and information science) and $42,000 (physical sciences), depending on the discipline.

Assuming an average starting salary of about $50,000, after taxes and other deductions this number gets low. Yet this still is the best time to save for retirement.

Whether it’s $25 per month or $17,500 per year, it’s important to save while you’re young to maximize your future net worth. Yes, now is the time to enjoy yourself but saving money should always be a priority. Here's why:

1. You have fewer financial obligations

Even with student debt, unless you have a mortgage, spouse, and children, you probably can afford to pay at least a little bit into your retirement account. Even 1% of a $45,000 salary ($450 per year), is worth it:

  • If you’re investing in an employer-sponsored 401(K), that $450 is deducted before taxes.
  • You can take advantage of your employer’s match, which means free money if you’re fully vested.

2. Time is on your side

The retirement age for millennials is 67. That means if you graduate college at 22 and start working right away, you have 45 years in the workforce which means you have 45 years to save for retirement.

How much do you want to have saved for retirement? Let’s say $2 million. That means that without compounding interest, employer match, or investment gains, you would need to save $44,000 per year. Not possible.

Fortunately, you have the advantage of compounding interest, and hopefully employer matches and investment gains. Starting in your twenties means more in interest and matches earned over time than starting in your thirties—in fact, a person who saves for only 10 years starting in her twenties can earn more than someone who saves for 30 years but starts later in life.

3. You already know how to live like a poor college student

You know how to make a whole meal out of a few random ingredients and get by on pennies. Don’t give up that poor college student lifestyle in your early twenties, even if it seems like a good idea to splurge on new clothes and restaurants.

Instead—invest in yourself. It’s better (and easier) to live like you’re poor now than in retirement. You might even join the FIRE movement and retire in your 40s!

4. You build solid money habits while you're young

Develop good money habits and get stuck in your ways as you grow older. Otherwise, by blowing money on things you don’t need, you'll get yourself into the habit of spending more as you earn more.

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