When you begin to save for retirement, the easiest way to get started is to enroll in your employer-sponsored retirement plan (401(k), 403(b), TSP, etc.). The next step (or the first step, for those who don't have access to an employer-sponsored plan) is generally to open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). These types of accounts provide great tax advantages, and come in two types: "Roth" and "Traditional."
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If you're going to sail into retirement with a nice fat portfolio and big sacks of money strewn across your deck, then you're going to have to deal with some ups and downs along the way. Financial markets are volatile by nature, and how you respond to these critical, anxiety-inducing periods can make the difference between a meager retirement, and a life of luxury.
Keeping our long-term goals in mind at all times requires an immense amount of effort. That's why we're often sidetracked by short-term wants and needs. Automating certain parts of the investment process is akin to putting guardrails around your financial ability to misbehave ... it'll keep you out of trouble and ensure you stay on track for long-term success.
When it comes to investing, the focus is usually on returns, or risk. But believe it or not, the small expenses that you incur along the way can actually have a huge impact on your overall net worth. While these expenses can't be avoided, they can certainly be minimized ... and doing so can save you a fortune.
Planning for retirement may seem intimidating, but it's not quite as difficult as you might expect. In fact, with the answers to just a few key questions, you can have a good idea of where you're headed, and how rosy that final destination may be. You can also easily pinpoint your "move back in with the kids date," in the event that you need to give them some advance notice.