How to make saving for retirement actually seem interesting: Declare your Independence Day

Now that's what I call a cash encounter.
Now that’s what I call a cash encounter.

With rents in Brooklyn ridiculously high, student loan debt killing your joie de vivre and dim prospects for a raise, promotion or even a job with benefits, I don’t blame you for not giving a toss about saving for some mythical day far off in the future when you no longer have to work for a living. Pretty much everyone has been writing about how young people today are either unprepared for retirement or are being told there’s a fat chance they might actually get to enjoy any retirement at all, meaning no shuffleboard in Florida or matinee movies are in your future. It’s easy to be cynical about  promise of “retirement.” But even for Gen Y, who consider “saving” on par with the likelihood of finding a  one-bedroom in Brooklyn  under $1,000, retirement should still be a goal and with a little planning it could be doable. So let’s reframe it.

Declare it “Independence Day”
To paraphrase Bill Pullman, you’ve got to think about celebrating your Independence Day. As a financial planner, I like to help my clients save for their own personal Independence Day —  the day they can stop working in a job that exhausts or frustrates them. Feel free to enlist Jeff Goldblum as your spirit guide, if that helps.

Think of it as a “Freedom Fund”
To get to Independence Day, I advise people on ways to save and invest money in what we call a Freedom Fund, which, when done, right, has long-term investing and tax benefits. Some of my millennial clients prefer to call it another type of fund that also start with the letter F and ends in y-o-u, but I won’t repeat that particular word here.

Even if you believe in retirement about as much as you believe in Santa or the Easter Bunny, you probably still hold out hope that you can do what you want down the road in a second career. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a chunk of change to fall back on — one that’s worth a lot more than you put in (and saved you bucks on your taxes)? All different kinds of individual retirement accounts (those IRAs your mom always talks about) have tax savings, options for investing, all which add up to you fighting for you independence.

Let’s kick the tires and light the fIRAs!
It doesn’t take much to get started. The first step is signing up for my next class at Brooklyn Brainery, the ABCS of IRAs ($12) on Saturday. We’ll be talking about the benefits of pre-tax and post tax IRAs- and I mean Individual Retirement Accounts, not  the Irish Republican Army, though these accounts can give you some serious firepower for your finances.

You’ll learn the serious tax and growth benefits of investing in Traditional and Roth Individual Retirement Accounts. Imagine what you can do in the future if you weren’t cash-strapped. Millennials may never retire like their grandmas, all mah jong and canasta. But once you have your Independence Day, you can pursue your own passion projects: say, tracking satellites or learning how to sync a MacBook with alien technology.

Stephanie Genkin is a financial planner and television producer. She offers monthly classes and workshops on money topics at Brooklyn Brainery. Here is a partial listing of her past classes.

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