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Is It Too Late to Start Saving for Retirement?



"I am raising a family, caring for my mother, working, and trying to finish a master’s degree at the same time. My current worry is retirement. 

I realize that retirement is a long way off for me, but I’m seeing my mother struggle with a lack of money. She cannot afford help, so she leans heavily on me. I am over there almost every day cleaning, running errands, and generally taking care of things. Outside help would certainly take a lot off my plate, which is overloaded at the moment. But that is not possible.

I am 40 years old and have not begun to save for retirement. Is it too late to begin with just a little bit or should I throw up my hands and let Social Security do its work?"



It sounds like you are a very, very busy person with little time to spare. The quick answer to your question is, do not rely on Social Security alone after retirement. It can be done, though it is not the way to go unless you want to be in the same situation your mother is.

First thing Monday morning, contact your Human Resources department at work and find out what type of retirement plan is available to you. Many employers have a 401k or 403b situation, and they offer some type of match to whatever contribution you make. Get connected at work and begin. Even if the amount is small, get started. You are leaving free retirement money on the table if you do not take advantage of an employer match. Your goal should be to contribute enough to get the entire employer match available. Human Resources can help you; I am certain they will know.

You may also contribute to an individual retirement account (IRA) under most circumstances. Some folks contribute to the plan offered by their employer, and to an IRA. I recommend you do both if you can and are eligible.

Another recommendation is to contact your company’s financial planner. Most companies offer this service for free. Again, Human Resources can connect you.

Think of any money you place into a retirement account as money that is gone forever, or at least until you retire. You do not touch that money. I realize that you have a mom, the kids, and many other commitments. A little self-care and future planning are essential here. Get started. You will not regret any dollars you set aside for the future, and it will make a difference.