Retirement Advice We’d Insist Our Younger Selves Follow

4 Minute Read

How many times have you wished you could go back and have a heart-to-heart chat with your younger self? What wisdom would you offer? How about looking forward? What bit of advice will you make sure to pass on to your children as they start building their financial habits?

The Center for a Secure Retirement recently surveyed hundreds of middle-income retirees, asking them what counsel they would give younger generations about preparing for and living in retirement. In that same spirit, we asked Dave’s Facebook fans about their favorite piece of advice about retirement planning. It could be advice they received from someone older and wiser, or it could be advice they would give their younger selves if they could.

The survey results and the feedback from our Facebook folks lined up pretty well—but we also uncovered a couple of differences.

Please, Please, Please Start Saving Early

Retirees would urge younger people to start saving for retirement early, with 93% of those surveyed offering that advice. Our fans strongly agreed.

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“You may think retirement is a long way off, and you have plenty of time,” Krista A. who lives in Plano, TX, said in her post. “But you blink, and you’re 50. Save something, even if it’s small, and most of all, don’t touch it.”

“The amount you save is not nearly as important as how consistently you save,” Danielle P. from Raleigh, NC, agreed.

Dave’s fans also agreed with 84% of the surveyed retirees who recommended participating in a workplace retirement plan. “Start payroll deductions from your very first job and continue,” Beth W. from Moultrie, GA, said.

“Take advantage of the company match!” Dustin Z. from Battleground, WA, added.

That is terrific advice—the same advice Dave gives every day. But before you jump in to investing with both feet, you need to be debt-free and have a fully funded emergency fund. That way you won’t be tempted to raid your budding retirement account when—not if—life happens and you end up with unexpected expenses.

Student Loans Are a Stumbling Block

Most of the retirees in the survey didn’t face one of today’s most common financial challenges: student loans. But Dave Facebook followers couldn’t ignore the effects student loans have had on their ability to save for the future.

Anne B. who lives in Greenwood Lake, NY, would have advised her younger self this way: “Don’t let your ego dictate where you go to college for a nursing degree,” she said in her post. “Go where you got a full scholarship rather than graduate with $56,000 in student loans.”

Avoid student loans!” Jessica P. from Philadelphia, PA, warned. “A degree from a private school is not worth it. It does not define you, and it certainly is not worth the $100,000 price tag. I would be so much wealthier if I didn’t have all these student loans hanging over my head today, 10 years after college.”

Stephen B. from Orlando, FL, summed it up. “Don’t take out loans for college. Don’t.”

Successful Saving Requires a Strong Partnership

Our Facebook fans picked up on another important factor for successful retirement savings: having a spouse who’s on the same page financially.

“The difference between and nest egg and a goose egg is the chick you marry,” Otto K. of Pensacola, FL, wittily pointed out. Married couples must work as a team at budgeting, paying off debt, and saving for the future.

“Be on the same page as your spouse because one person doing a budget doesn’t work,” Jamie L. from DeMotte, IN, said.

“I would tell myself that I need to work as a partner with my wife and set savings goals,” Ken G. said in his post.

If you and your spouse are having a hard time working together on money matters, try talking about your dreams. Where do you want to be financially in 10, 20 or 30 years? Once you know you’re working together for a common goal, you’ll be less likely to butt heads over day-to-day money issues.

Stop Putting It Off

Getting started on your retirement savings plan isn’t complicated. And that’s exactly what Shawn-ta W. would tell her younger self. “It’s easier than you think!” she said in her post.

It’s true; you don’t have to know everything about investing to start saving for the future. “Have enough wisdom to realize you don’t have all the answers and have the humility to learn from others,” Alan D. advised.

An experienced investing advisor with the heart of a teacher is another good partner to have on your journey to a confident retirement. We can help you find an advisor Dave recommends in your area so you can get started on your plan today!

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