Choosing Investment Options In Your 20s
Your investment portfolio in your 20s will likely involve achieving diversification, which is a key aspect of an investment strategy. By diversifying, you’re spreading your money out across various types of investments to reduce risk. In order to diversify, its important to understand the level of risk associated with each type of investment, according to the SEC.
- Most risky: Individual stocks, relatively aggressive mutual funds or ETFs, real estate.
- Risky: Mutual funds or exchange traded funds that track broad stock market indexes such as the S& P 500, Nasdaq 100, or Dow Jones Industrial Average .
- Less risky: Bonds and bond funds.
Most investors achieve diversification by keeping money in several of these options. You might own a basket of individual stocks, mutual funds that span indexes and sectors, and a relatively conservative bond fund. The most important tactic is to not put all of your eggs in one basket, and not get caught up in broad trends as you invest in your 20s.
Consider how the global health crisis impacted spending and consumer interest in various industries, such as internet gaming and household cleaning supplies. While stocks in these sectors captured the limelight in 2020, that can easily change and fluctuate. Oftentimes, broad economic conditions make dividend-paying stocks more popular.
Dont Be Afraid Of Investment Alternatives
Stocks, bonds, and mutual funds can all be good places to start investing in your 20s. But dont count out other alternative investments outside these markets.
Real estate is one example of an alternative investment that can be attractive to some investors. Investing in real estate in your 20s doesnt necessarily mean you have to own a rental property, though thats one option. You could also invest in fix-and-flip properties, real estate investment trusts , or crowdfunded real estate investments.
Adding alternative investments such as real estate, cryptocurrency, and commodities to your portfolio can improve diversification and create more insulation against risk.
Invest Any ‘found Money’
One of the best ways to rapidly pump up your investment account is to invest any “found money.” Tax refunds, year-end bonuses, inheritances and lottery winnings are all examples of “found money,” or money you weren’t planning on having.
If you can resist the urge to spend this money and invest it instead, you’ll reap significant long-term financial advantages.
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Bankrate follows a strict editorial policy, so you can trust that were putting your interests first. All of our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts, who ensure everything we publish is objective, accurate and trustworthy.
Our reporters and editors focus on the points consumers care about most how to save for retirement, understanding the types of accounts, how to choose investments and more so you can feel confident when planning for your future.
Starting Young Is Easier & Cheaper
When you start saving for retirement in your early 20s, it will cost you less money. You can start to look for the best micro investing apps for beginners and learn how to buy stocks using some of the money you have saved. Investing will allow you to accumulate higher returns in the long run.
You dont have to put nearly as much of your check away to make a huge difference in retirement. Here are some numbers on saving $1.7 million, which is a generalized amount people need to officially retire :2
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Know The Difference Between Asset Allocation And Asset Location
People often invest in a combination of stocks and bonds, which is easy to do using mutual funds and ETFs. One strategy for investing in your 20s is to invest a higher allocation of your long-term investments in stocks and less in bonds, slowly moving into more bond funds the closer you get to retirement. This big picture decision is called asset allocation.
But asset allocation is only part of the picture. One might also consider asset location: the types of accounts where youre putting your money, like savings accounts, an online brokerage account, a 401k, or an IRA.
Asset location matters when it comes to investing money in your 20s because it can maximize tax advantages if youre utilizing a 401k or IRA. But these retirement accounts also have restrictions and penalties for withdrawing money. So if you want to be able to access your investments quickly, an online brokerage may be a complimentary investing account.
The Benefits Of Compounding Interest
Heres an example1 of compounding interest over a period of time. Compound interest which is the interest you earn on your principal sum plus previously accumulated interest can have a dramatic effect on the value of money over time. Lets say you start saving now for 10 years, and then you stop. When you retire, youll have $91,880 in savings. Thats $30,000 more compared to someone who waited 10 years to start and saved for 20 years. Though you saved money over a shorter period, it had more time to compound. Thats why saving now is key.
Charts comparing how time effects compounding interest Starting early and saving for 10 years produces a greater return than waiting for 10 years and then saving for 20 years. $91,880 $24,960 $35,497
There are many different ways to save. And there are simple things you can do to find extra money in your budget. And you dont have to cut out the things you love.
For example, if you made coffee at home, packed your lunch or dropped some premium channels you could re-direct some real money into your savings.
Remember, saving for retirement is not selfish, so pay yourself first. Here are some simple things you can do to start saving and save even more, as well as other retirement planning tips to consider in your 20s and 30s.
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Make Risk Your Friend
Many investors make the mistake of avoiding risk even though it helps them over a long time frame. Reaching a million would require a reasonable allocation toward stocks while investing in stocks can be riskier than say, putting your money in a savings account, over the long run stocks have shown to be a much more rewarding investment.
» Learn more: How to invest in stocks
Of course, when you invest in stock, you’ll probably see drops in the short term. That’s why the market is generally a no-go if you need the money within five to 10 years. But history shows us that, in the end, youll come out ahead for long-term financial goals such as retirement. One reason why investing in your 20s is so important is that youre looking at a very long term, which allows you to capitalize on all that growth. Bonds can be generally lower-risk, lower-return investments that can counter the risk of stocks.
Investing may also help protect your portfolio from the negative effects of inflation, which can cause your money to lose value every year. Use our inflation calculator to see how.
» Dive deeper:Learn what inflation is and why it matters
Using the same 401 scenario in the last example, the difference between a 9.1% return and a 5.4% return, for example, is close to $1.3 million. Its not reasonable to count on a 9% return, but you can take appropriate risk and hope for the best.
» Learn more:What to invest in
Ishares Esg Aware Msci Usa Etf
- Stock price as of Sept. 23, 2022: $82.11
The iShares ESG Aware MSCI USA ETF may be quite a mouthful, but its values-based approach to investing is likely to be a hit with many Gen Z investors.
This fund tracks an index that tilts toward companies with high environmental, social and governance ratings, and it screens out companies involved with tobacco, controversial weapons, civilian firearms, thermal coal and oil sands. The fund carries an MSCI ESG fund rating of AAA, with a ESG quality score of 9.4 on a scale from 1 to 10. This can make the fund particularly appropriate for Gen Z investors looking to invest specifically in socially conscious companies.
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In Your 30s: Invest Aggressively In Stocks
Take full advantage of your employers contribution by investing 10 to 15% of your salary in your office retirement plan in your 30s. Investing in a home or rental property is a good idea, provided you will be able to keep the real estate for at least five years. When you compare long-term investment returns on stocks and bonds, stocks vastly outperform cash and bond investments over time. You have decades to potentially make up any temporary losses in the stock market, so invest as aggressively in equities as your risk comfort level allows.
Why Is Retirement Planning Important
Again: money. In an ideal situation, retirement contributions are put away and never touched out of sight and out of mind. These savings arent for short-term needs. They grow over the long haul to give future you total financial stability.
For example, lets say you make $50,000 per year and put away a modest 4% of your income per paycheck into a retirement fund beginning at age 25.
If you do this until youre 65, without ever increasing your contribution percentage, youll have about $400,000 saved to help you live a cushier life.
But lets say you do everything the same, but dont start until youre 30.
Youll only have about $280,000 saved a whopping $120,000 less to enjoy during senior-hood.
Needless to say, the name of the game is putting away money as soon as you can for maximum reward.
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Defer Taxes To Make Larger Contributions Now
If you opt for a tax-deferred retirement account, such as an IRA or 401, you can postpone taxes on your contributions and earnings until you withdraw at retirement. A larger untaxed contribution means a larger amount of money will be subject to growth, and over several decades that can make a huge difference.
Roth IRAs, meanwhile, tax you upfront so your withdrawals at retirement will be tax-free. Depending on your situation, this could the better option. Making that decision may require some professional insight, which leads us to #6
The Power Of Saving For Retirement In Your Early 20s
Youve just landed your first jobcongratulations! Now whats next? Retirement! No, seriously, you should start planning now. Young, new employees often think about the idea of saving for retirement long before they actually do anything about it, often missing out on some big savings opportunities. Putting money away is the last thing anyone wants to discuss after theyve just landed their first job and are about to receive their first real paycheck, but it should be a top priority.
To understand why you should save for retirement in your 20s, you need to have a clear understanding of compound interesta powerful tool only if you start early. Compound interest rewards you for not only the actual dollars you invest , but also on what those dollars earn . This financial lingo can sound confusing, but using numbers to illustrate the concept makes it much easier to understand:
Say, for example, you put $5,000 into your retirement account every year starting at age 25, up until you retire at 65a total contribution of $200,000 over 40 years. Thanks to the power of compound interest, history shows you could end up with almost $1.1 million in savings. Sounds unbelievable, right? Well actually, its very possible if you just start early.
Because Person B waited 10 years to start saving for retirement, they ended up with over $550,000 less at age 65.
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Get Creative To Find The Cash For Retirement Planning
If you’re in your 20s, chances are you’re living on a tight budget, and it’s easy to skip over retirement planning. But with a little motivation, being in your 20s can also mean you’re in a unique position to find extra cash to put away in your retirement account.
If you don’t have kids or a mortgage, you may have more time and flexibility than you realize. Could you tolerate giving up your one-bedroom apartment to move in with roommates for a year? How about spending a few hours after work or on the weekends spinning your creative hobby into a freelance gig? You could even relive your babysitting glory days. Or drive for Uber, participate in a medical study, or become a live art model. When you’re retired, you’ll enjoy looking back at the fun lengths you went to get there.
Everyone has their own idea of what kind of retiree they’re going to be glamorous traveler, leisurely golfer, kindly senior citizen who walks around parks befriending pigeons but one thing is consistent: none of those options, even the last one, is possible without a healthy cash flow. The good news is that you’re ahead of the curve right now. You don’t have to put away half your paycheque every month to ensure you’ll be comfortable in retirement. Start small and prepare to marvel at how it all adds up.
Contribute To Your Company’s Retirement Plan
On average, people who are already retired say they wish they had started saving at age 29, about a decade before they did, according to a study in which Edward Jones teamed with Age Wave, a thought leader on aging and longevity.
Many companies match retirement plan contributions and setting aside at least enough to earn the full match can make a big difference in your accounts growth. Then, work toward saving 10%-15% of your income for retirement. One way you can do that is by increasing your contribution by at least 1% a year.
As you can see from the chart below, the cost of waiting can be significant. Take advantage of the fact that retirement is years away by contributing to your retirement account now.
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Ask About An Employer Match
Many companies offer a 401 retirement plan to encourage saving, and many partially match what you invest. For example, if you invest 6% of your pay, and your company matches $0.50 on every dollar, that will put another 3% into your retirement account. Your 6% becomes 9%.
Even if funds are tight, try to contribute at least the matching amount so you dont miss out on free money.
Preparing To Invest In Your 20s
When preparing to invest in your 20s, it’s important to consider how much money you can afford to commit to investing. To determine the amount, you might create a budget, which includes your income and your cost of living expenses, such as rent, utilities, and food. Using your budget as a guide can help you get started in finding some wiggle room in your funds to invest.
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Invest For Retirement In Tax
Not all investment accounts are created equal. Online brokerage accounts offer flexibility but no tax savings when you invest for retirement. Meanwhile, tax-advantaged retirement accounts, like 401s and individual retirement accounts , provide tax-deferred or tax-free growth, making them ideal tools to invest for retirement.
IRAs and 401s are available in traditional and Roth flavors. Traditional accounts may let you deduct your contributions from your taxes now, deferring income taxes to when you make withdrawals in retirement.
Roth accounts let you invest for retirement with money that youve already paid taxessimilar to online brokerage accounts. The difference is that when you withdraw money from Roth accounts in retirement, its tax free. Thats a huge advantage, but there are additional rules to be aware of with Roth accounts.
Have An Emergency Fund
If an emergency happens, do you have enough money to cover it?
It’s important to have a safety net if you need a car repair or experience job loss. The last thing you want is to rack up credit card debt or dip into your retirement savings.
How much do you have saved for emergencies?
Most financial experts recommend that you have enough savings to cover three to six months of living expenses. After you have socked away at least 3 months’ worth, then you can start investing.
To get started, open a savings account dedicated to your emergency fund. Online banks usually offer savings accounts with a higher interest rate so your money can grow more. It’s smart to put your savings on autopilot by setting up automatic monthly transfers, even if it’s just $25 or $50 a month.
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Aim To Save At Least 10% Of Your Income Each Year Automatically
An all too common mistake new investors make is that they focus on what to invest in, rather than how much to invest, says Rapplean.
âYounger investors get really hung up on the investment choices, when the focus really should be on your savings rate,â says Rapplean. Academic research suggests someone in their 20s needs to aim to save at least 10%â15% is even betterâto land at retirement in solid shape. If you get a later start, you will want to aim to save even more.
If you canât reach that threshold right now, donât get disheartened. Many people canât itâs equally important to get any amount of money you can into the market to start benefiting from compounding returns. Even small sums can become small fortunes over decades.