Stellar Strategies for a Secure Retirement

byChase Ross

Tue Feb 06 2024

@ CompanyLLC
Stellar Strategies

Whether you are 15, 45 or 65, it never ceases to amaze you how vast and wonderful the night sky can be.  Although the universe and how it (and we!) got here might be questions humans have been pondering for millennia, saving for retirement doesn’t have to be so complicated.  In fact, here are a few proven strategies to get you to whatever your financial goals may be.  

Budgeting

No matter if you are planning a trip to space camp or charting a course to establish a base camp on the moon, you will not get very far without a budget.  You must know what is coming in and what is coming out.  In fact, it’s not nearly enough just to know where your money is going, but to assign every dollar a job.  Budgeting is a crucial tool whether you are at the launch pad of your career or flying towards your golden years.  

The reason budgeting is so crucial, especially at the beginning of your career, is because the biggest asset anyone has – is time.  Brian Preston, founder of “the Money Guy” podcast and website likes to discuss what he calls, “the wealth multiplier.”  Here’s an example:  Let’s say you graduate at 22 years of age.  Every dollar invested in the market (index fund or mutual fund tracking the S&P 500, etc.) at 22 will be worth roughly $66.48 by the age of 65(1).  In other words, your wealth multiplier at the age of 22 is 66.48.  Albert Einstein is said to have called compound interest, “the most powerful force in the universe.”  Whether he truly said that or not remains to be seen, but the truth behind the statement is certainly borne out in reality.  

But remember, the biggest reason the “wealth multiplier” or compound interest is so powerful is because of time.  A mere five years later that multiplier drops by nearly 50% to 33.80!

Regular Contributions

Stars are formed from clouds of space dust called nebula(2).  Within these clouds knots of dust and gas with sufficient mass can begin to collapse under their own gravitational attraction.  This cloud then begins to gather more dust and gas ultimately leading to a star (among other things).  These “regular contributions” of dust and gas themselves do not amount to much but given enough time and accumulation they will shine brilliantly for eons.  

Thus is the regular contribution to a retirement account such as a 401k (3) or IRA(4).  Take our example from above.  At the age of 22 compound interest can convert $1 invested into $66.48 by the age of 65.  Or if you were to invest $125 per month at the age of 22, you will have a portfolio worth $1 million by age 65.  Double that to $250 per month and you will have $2 million by age 65.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earnings for a full-time employee in the United States was $1,118 (2023) or approximately $4,800 per month.  By saving only 2.6% of the median monthly income (starting at age 22) one can have a nest egg of $1 million by 65.  Now that is a brightly shining star!

Tax Efficiency

One of my favorite sci-fi film/television series is Star Wars.  Consistent throughout the Star Wars universe is the idea of “hyperspace lanes.”  These lanes provide safe travel from one world in a galaxy to another.  Tax advantaged accounts are like hyperspace lanes that allow you to move money from one tax world to another.  The best example of this would be a Roth IRA(6).  With a Roth IRA (and Roth 401k) you are making after tax contributions to your retirement account.  The benefit of this is that the money will grow tax free and qualified distributions are also tax free.  A traditional IRA or 401k uses pre-tax money to fund your retirement account.  This gives you a nice tax break up front.  However, qualified distributions from a traditional account are taxed in retirement.  This could reduce your income by upwards of twenty or thirty percent (depending on your tax bracket)!  

If your employer offers a Roth 401k, seriously consider the benefits of a tax break today vs. paying no taxes on distributions during retirement.  If your employer does not offer a Roth 401k, make sure you contribute enough to earn any company match, then open a Roth IRA with a bank that does offer this type of account.  Just be sure to do your homework on the contribution limits and rules for both types of accounts.  

Conclusion

These are just a few of the stellar retirement strategies available to workers today.  But an overall retirement plan that includes these strategies will certainly rocket any lofty financial goals to the stratosphere. 

References

  1. This assumes an expected average annual return of 10% and decreasing by 0.1% each year after the age of 20.  Home | Money Guy