This paid content was created in partnership with Bank of America.
In your 20s (even in your 30s) it can be hard to imagine what life will be like at 65 and beyond.
“Will I ever really be that old?”
Yes, you will be. And there’s no time like the present to start thinking about what that future looks like and to start planning for it.
Retirement planning can be a little intimidating, but the professionals at Bank of America walked us through how to get started. Because why not live our best lives at every age?
5 questions you should be asking yourself now about retirement
Retirement may seem SUPER far off, but the reality is you have to start thinking about it while you’re semi-young, if you want to live comfortably later.
We spoke with Rhondale Haywood, Portfolio Manager at Bank of America Private Bank, and James Wolf, senior financial advisor at Merrill, and here are the five questions they suggest you ask yourself now about retirement.
(1) What does retirement look like to you?
“Everyone’s idea of retirement is different,” says James. “Are you sitting on a beach drinking piña coladas all day? Are you still working part-time? Do you want to travel?” Think about your goals for retirement and that will play a factor in financially planning for it.
(2) When do you ideally want to retire?
You might not be sure when, or you might be thinking “as soon as humanly possible.” Either way, give yourself a rough estimate of when you might want to retire.
(3) How long do you think you will live?
Yikes. This is kind of a morbid question to ask yourself but it’s still something to keep in mind when financially planning for your retirement. Look at your health and your family history to give yourself a ballpark idea of your life expectancy. The last thing you want to do is run out of money with another 10 years to live.
(4) How are you going to pay for it?
“One option to consider is to spend your working years creating passive income streams like investment property,” says Rhondale. You may also factor in social security. Use the Merrill retirement calculator to estimate what you might need.
(5) What vehicle will you use to save it?
Once you figure out how you’ll be paying for your retirement, you’ll need an actual place to put your money to save it. From 401(k)s to IRAs, there are tons of options out there. Do your research and pick one that works best for you.
A breakdown of the different types of retirement savings accounts
You get it. Saving for retirement is important. But now you might be wondering, “how exactly do I do that?”
There isn’t just one way to prepare for retirement. There are multiple types of accounts you can use to stash (and potentially grow) your money for future you. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the different types.
What it is: This is a retirement plan offered by many employers.
What it does: You contribute from your paycheck each month and that money gets invested in underlying products you choose from until you’re ready to retire.
How much you should contribute: Rhondale Haywood, Portfolio Manager at Bank of America Private Bank, suggests at the very least contributing enough to get your company’s match. “It’s basically like free money,” he says. “After that, contribute as much as you can afford with your monthly expenses.”
What about taxes: Keep in mind, your 401(k) may be taxed when you withdraw your money.
Pro tip: Some companies allow you to sign up to automatically increase your contribution percentage each year. You should consider doing that.
The Traditional Individual Retirement Account (aka the IRA)
What it is: An account specifically set up to use during retirement, offering certain tax advantages.
Am I eligible: Anyone under the age of 70 1/2 with earned income is eligible for a traditional IRA.
What about taxes: Contributions to traditional IRAs may be tax-deductible. Any earnings grow federal income tax-deferred until withdrawn at or after 59 1/2. Withdrawals are subject to ordinary income tax. In addition, a federal 10 percent additional tax may apply to withdrawals taken prior to age 59 1/2. State income tax laws vary.
The Roth IRA
What it is: Basically the same as a traditional IRA but with different eligibility requirements and tax advantages.
Am I eligible: You’re eligible at any age, as long as your modified adjusted gross income for 2021 does not equal or exceed $140,000 (for single tax filers) or $208,000 (for joint tax filers).
What about taxes: Any earnings are federal income tax-free if withdrawn at or after age 59 1/2 and the account has been open five years or more. Contributions are not tax-deductible.
The Rollover IRA
What it is: When you leave a company and need to move your 401(k), you can roll it over into an IRA.
What it does: Doing this keeps your taxes deferred until you retire and helps prevent you from having to paying early withdrawal penalties.
If you’re interested in opening an IRA, start here.
What about investing?
Another way that can give you the potential to accumulate money for retirement is by investing. While you’re working to make more money, investing can put your money to work for you, helping you increase your earning potential. A range of investment vehicles are available to choose from — from equities to debt securities, commodities and beyond – depending on your risk tolerance, liquidity needs and short- and long-term time horizon. Not sure what that means for you? Talk to a financial advisor who can break it down.
“Many of the products and services you use every day are provided by publicly traded companies,” says James. “So when you use these products and services, you are supporting those public companies. So consider starting small and investing in companies you use day-to-day so you know what you own.”
Before you invest, you’ll need to take a number of factors into consideration. Determine your financial goals, both short- and long-term, and review your budget. Among other things, consider your time horizon, liquidity needs and how much risk you’re willing to take.
Getting professional financial advice is a good place to start. Talk to a Merrill financial advisor to learn more.
“What retirement advice would you give to your 20-something self?”
Since Rhondale and James know the ins and outs of retirement planning, we decided to see what advice they’d give their younger selves knowing what they know now.
- Save more. Savings felt like a vampire coming to suck the fun out of my life when I was 21. Now, I look back and realize it would have been better to put a little more away.
- Start sooner. There are several pairs of shoes I bought in college that could have been shares in good companies.
- Learn more. I wasn’t proactive in learning about different types of investments until it was my career. I wish I would have learned in high school.
- Don’t cash in your chips too early. In our 20s, my wife and I cashed in a part of our investments to buy Christmas presents. I can’t even tell you what I bought, but the stock we sold has gone way up since then.
- Seek counsel. I had a lot of smart people around me from whom I could have asked for more advice regarding saving for retirement. I don’t think I took full advantage of those relationships.
- Define short-term goals like an emergency reserve with at least 3-6 months of living expenses saved. Then, define and prioritize some longer-term goals, such as paying off college loans and your home, and saving for retirement.
- Start now. Pay yourself first. Take advantage of your company match, if they offer one, at a minimum.
- Evaluate a Roth IRA at different life stages.
- Consider contributing to a Health Savings Account (HSA) for health care expenses today and in retirement.
- If you have debt, focus on paying down the higher interest loans first and then lower interest loans after.
4 retirement planning resources to help along the way
There are tons of retirement planning resources out there. In fact, there are so many it’s actually overwhelming. We narrowed it down to four to help you get started.
If you want to learn more about saving and retirement planning in general…
Check out Better Money Habits®.
What it is: It’s basically an online financial learning center created by Bank of America in partnership with Khan Academy.
Why it’s helpful: You can find tons of information about different financial topics, including retirement. There are articles, quizzes and videos that help make complex subjects seem way more manageable.
If you need help saving more money each month…
Start using a budgeting app like Mint.*
What it is: Mint is a website and app that let’s you connect all your different accounts and create monthly budgets.
Why it’s helpful: It let’s you see how you are really spending your money and let’s you set boundaries in places where you may be overspending. Seeing where you can cut back will help you save more.
Cost: Free (Wireless carrier fees may apply.)
If you’re ready to figure out how much $$$ you’ll actually need for retirement…
Play around with Merrill Edge’s Personal Retirement Calculator.
What it is: A calculator you can use to figure out how much money you may need to live comfortably in retirement.
Why it’s helpful: It takes into account your current saving strategy, age, income and other personal information so the results feel pretty accurate. Plus, you can play around with the sliders to adjust your answers.
If you’re ready to get serious about your finances…
Talk to a Merrill Financial Advisor.
What it is: You sit down with one of Merrill’s advisors, show them your finances and they help you create a strategy based on your financial and life goals.
Why it’s helpful: “It’s like going to the doctor for a check-up,” says James Wolf, senior financial advisor at Merrill. “You want to make sure you’re on track to meet your goals and we can help with that.”
More helpful resources
- Follow James Wolf on LinkedIn to view his weekly content
- Follow Bank of America’s social media updates
- Better Money Habits Education Resource Center
- Visit the Merrill website for help determining your priorities and tips for wealth and retirement planning
Ready to start planning for retirement?
This paid content was created in partnership with Bank of America. And here are some important disclosures:
Investing involves risk, including possible loss of the principal value invested.
The results provided by the Personal Retirement Calculator (PRC) are intended for illustrative purposes only and accuracy is not guaranteed. The results should not be relied upon nor should they be deemed as investment advice.
IMPORTANT: The projections or other information generated by the Personal Retirement Calculator regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results and are not guarantees of future results. Results may vary with each use and over time.
The Personal Retirement Calculator is provided by one or more third party service providers. However, the information generated by the calculator is developed by Merrill to estimate how current savings and estimated future contributions may help to meet estimated income in retirement. The information estimates potential growth of your indicated assets and contributions over the time frame specified. The market return data used to generate the illustration is hypothetical and intended to provide you with a general idea of how an asset mix you selected might perform over time.
The respective asset mix may be useful information, but is in no way representative of past performance of a particular investment, and is not representative of any future performance of any particular investment. Numerous factors make the calculations uncertain, such as the use of assumptions about hypothetical returns and inflation as well as the data you have provided. Assumptions concerning inflation are for illustrative purposes only. Any asset or portfolio earnings and/or returns shown or used do not reflect the cost of investing, including commissions or fees.
Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.
We encourage you to consult with qualified professionals to discuss your situation.
Bank of America Corporation and its affiliates are not tax or legal advisors. The PRC is not intended to offer any tax, legal, financial or investment advice and does not assure the availability of or your eligibility for any specific product offered by Bank of America Corporation, its affiliates or any other institution, nor does the PRC predict or guarantee the actual results of any investment product. The terms and conditions of products offered by institutions will differ and may affect the results of the calculator. You shall be fully responsible for any investment decisions you make, and such decisions will be based solely on your evaluation of your financial circumstances, investment objectives, risk tolerance, and liquidity needs. Please consult with qualified professionals to discuss your situation.
You have choices about what to do with your employer-sponsored retirement plan accounts. Depending on your financial circumstances, needs and goals, you may choose to roll over to an IRA or convert to a Roth IRA, roll over an employer-sponsored plan from your old job to your new employer, take a distribution, or leave the account where it is. Each choice may offer different investment options and services, fees and expenses, withdrawal options, required minimum distributions, tax treatment, and different types of protection from creditors and legal judgments. These are complex choices and should be considered with care.
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