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In my experience, it’s tough to sell millennials on the concept of retirement.
First there are the financial challenges young people face today. The majority of millennials are saddled with tons of debt, and 47% of them spend more than half their monthly income trying to pay it off. Their unemployment rates are higher than those of older workers. And those who are working are dealing with lower wages thanks to the recession and its slow recovery. The last thing they want to do is commit even more of their income to a goal 30 or 40 years down the road.
Then there’s the fact that many millennials wonder if they’ll ever want to retire. They’re not interested in spending their golden years in a retirement community full of people their own age. They like the diversity and culture of city life. Saving up money just so they can unplug from society doesn’t seem like a worthy goal.
Retirement Can Be a Kickstarter-Worthy Goal
But there’s one thing that does speak to millennials, and that’s purpose. They want to do things that matter to them. For example, Kickstarter, the highly successful online crowdsourcing platform, was founded by three guys on the leading edge of the millennial generation.
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Since its launch in 2009, the Kickstarter community has grown to more than 9 million people who’ve pledged nearly $2 billion to help fund creative projects.
Millennials make up 64% of Kickstarter’s backers. They’re promising their hard-earned dollars to help musicians, writers, film makers and designers get their ventures off the ground. Why? Because they believe those projects will make a difference in the world.
I believe millennials need to take a second look at retirement, not as a time to be put “out to pasture,” but as their opportunity to make a difference in the world themselves. By planning for and saving for retirement the right way, millennials can earn the right to go and do those things they care about.
Use Your 401(k) as Your Own Kickstarter
So here’s what I propose: Millennials need to think of their retirement plan, especially their 401(k), as Kickstarter for their retirement. If you think about it, there are plenty of similarities.
1. Understand Your Dream. Every Kickstarter project starts with a dream—a vision someone feels compelled to fulfill. They feel so strongly that they spent time to determine what it would take financially to make that dream come true. Then they set their goal and take action to reach that goal.
Your retirement strategy starts with your retirement dream. Think about what you want to do when you retire and how much money that will take. Set your goal, and with the help of an investing advisor, take the steps necessary to reach it.
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2. Make the Most of Other People’s Money. Whether you’re talking about a Kickstarter project or your retirement, you can always raise money faster when other people contribute. With Kickstarter, random strangers help you nickel and dime your way to your goal. With your 401(k), your employer will often match the money you put in, up to a certain percentage of your income. The most common match is 6% or $3,000 on a $50,000 salary. That’s free money and a guaranteed 100% return on your investment from the get-go!
3. Watch Your Money Grow. One of the fastest Kickstarter launches was a project that received $1 million in pledges the first hour! The good thing about retirement investing is that you have years, not days, to reach your goal.
Even better, millennials have more time to save and more time for their money to grow. Let’s say you invest $500 a month for retirement from age 25 to age 60. You’ll invest for 30 years before you hit $1 million in your nest egg. But over the next five years, that will grow to nearly $1.8 million. The more money you have, the faster it grows.
Take Action Now For a Fulfilling Future
People who submit their projects to Kickstarter believe wholeheartedly in those projects. To successfully invest for your retirement, you have to see the potential in yourself and the opportunities you can gain in the future by working toward your goals now.
So how can you get started? Here are a few action points to get you going:
- Get out of debt and save your emergency fund. If you start investing before you have that foundation, you’ll turn to your 401(k) when (not if) you face a financial crisis. Get on a budget, get your debt paid and your emergency fund in place, then get going on retirement.
- Get to know your company’s retirement plan. When can you start contributing? How much is the company match? What are your investment options? Will your employer sign you up automatically? Your employer’s Human Resources department can give you all the details.
- Invest the right way from the start. You’ll probably have a lot of questions about your 401(k) that your HR folks won’t be able to answer. Questions like which investments should you choose and how much should you contribute to the plan. An experienced investing professional can help you with those decisions so you can make the most of your investing dollars as soon as you begin investing.
Chris Hogan helps spread Dave’s message of financial hope to audiences everywhere speaking on subjects like leadership, business and retirement. To promote financial education, he speaks at colleges and businesses, and conducts on-site training sessions at companies. Chris also works with high-profile clients such as athletes, entertainers and businessmen to help them develop a financial strategy to protect their wealth and secure their future. You can get great advice from Chris every day by following him on Twitter @ChrisHogan360 or facebook.com/chrishogan360. If you would like Chris to speak at your company event, church or organization, visit daveramsey.com/chrishogan.