401K - How Much Should I Have in There by 33? - North Arlington,NJ

Updated on January 10, 2011
A.D. asks from New York, NY
6 answers

My parents just retired and I would like to try to understand how much I should have in my 401k by now and how much I should be setting aside. I just started a new job and they don't match until you're employed one year and after that they match the first 6% which is great. I opted in to one of those that has your retirement date as your goal an they manage your portfolio based on that. I couldn't do it any other way since I am not at all savvy with stocks etc.

I guess I really don't know how much I should have by 33 or how much I should be contributing each paycheck? I feel
I am completely in the dark! Right now I am only contributing $25 per pay check and figured I would up it to $50 per Paycheck once the matching started...

Any guidance or resources that you may have come across that were helpful would be appreciated!

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answers from Detroit on

It depends on how much you want to live on once you retire. Then, generally, if you can withdraw and live on 4% a year of that total amount, theoretically, you will never run out because your money will still be gaining more (5% for conservative investments) than you are taking out (so $40,000 per year would be 4% of $1,000,000). Can you talk to your parents to find out what they have done to fund their retirement?

Whenever I've worked anywhere that offered a 401K, I put in 10% of my paycheck. I just started a new job in June and will be eligible for their 401K after a year, so I am thinking of increasing it to 20%. Meeting with a financial adviser might be helpful, in knowing what your goals are and how to best get there. The Motley Fool website, at http://www.fool.com/, is a good resource too (example: http://www.fool.com/how-to-invest/thirteen-steps/step-11-....

I also like watching Suze Orman and seeing what advice she gives for people in different situations.

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answers from Chicago on

there are a million online calculators. Find one and determine how much you will need when you retire. Then, start a plan. 50 a paycheck right now is great start, and then you just add to it with each pay raise.

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answers from Kansas City on

Make sure you are carrying no debt and have an emergency fund.
Check out this calculator: http://www.daveramsey.com/tools/investing-calculator/
Dave Ramsey is a WEALTH of information!! Read his books, listen to his radio show, check him out! I checked out books on CD from the library and listened to a couple, and his enthusiasm is contageous!

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answers from Glens Falls on

Even though you've had a number of responses, I did not see anyone point out the value of the company's match. What you want to contribute depends on your financial situation but because there is a company match on the first 6%, if at all possible with your financial circumstances, you should be putting in at least 6%. Check the vesting rules on the match, too, and make sure it immediately vests. A few others have pointed out the importance of getting rid of debt and I completely agree with this if we are talking credit card debt which typically has a high interest rate. Credit card debt needs to be zero and credit cards should be used strictly as a convenience and paid off in full every month. If your debt is solely a mortgage, then you need to up your 401(k) contribution. If your debt is medical bills, you can often work out no interest payment plans with medical providers, in which case you might as well not miss out on the company's match. So I guess what I'm saying is you need to evaluate your total financial circumstances when making this decision, but remember that you are leaving money on the table with the 6% match if you aren't doing 6%. It is great that you have realized at a fairly young age, the importance of saving for retirement. Increasing life spans and the vulnerability of the Medicare system would scare the bejeebers out of me if I was younger. I agree with all the advice about credit card debt and learning delayed gratification but being a baby boomer that took a hit from the stock market and housing crash, I just want to add don't ignore free money towards retirement from your employer if you can swing it in your financial situation.

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answers from Harrisburg on

I don't think it has to do with the amount you have now as much as the amount you would like to have when you do retire. Based on your goal and needs when you retire (travel, medical, insurance, etc) is what you should base the amount on. If you do not think you would have enough by then, invest more now, but you have time to your advantage, so you could go less. Also think long term if you plan on keeping that particular job forever and if you can afford to invest a whole lot in the event the next job you have do not offer the 401K opportunity.

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answers from Dallas on

You need to talk to a financial advisor who can give you solid guidance.

Many people here have good ideas but we are not professionals. You need to do research and have a trusted advisor.

If you are not into the numbers (sounds like you are not, and that is ok), you need guidance.

You need to carry NO DEBT. It is great that you are contributing something but that $25-$50 is not going to grow that fast. We always opted for the maximum allowed and invested on our own on top of that with the max.

For us.... we are both very disciplined and we value delayed gratification. We lived on roughly 1/2 our yearly income for years saving the entire rest of the money for 401K, mutual funds, personal savings, daughter's college fund, etc.

As you probably already know, don't put all the eggs in 1 basket.... we collect numismatics, savings bonds, real estate.. You need to be diversified.

Seek out a good financial advisor who can guide you.

Good luck.

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