When I was 16, I got my first job. It wasn’t much; I was working the cash register at a local hardware store, and in between customers I would carry out tasks like answering the phone and vacuuming. I had to learn how to count back change, and I had to learn how to interact with customers, but the hardest thing was having to balance my work schedule with school.
At the age of 16, I became a workaholic. I. Was. Addicted. To. Working. I loved it. Absolutely loved it. I looked forward so much to summer, when I could get more hours (one week I got 39, and they told me I couldn’t get more than 35). I felt so grown up and responsible, and was so excited to see my bank account grow every week.
Then one day I thought, “What am I going to do with my money?”
I don’t remember how I got there, but eventually I decided I should set up a 401(k) for myself. And I was so excited by this decision, and I was excited to tell my parents my plan.
They laughed at me.
tl;dr: I didn’t set up that 401(k).
Fast forward to nearly a decade later, and I didn’t regret not doing it, but I found myself in a position that probably many other people my age were also in: I wasn’t putting anything away for retirement. My workplace offered a 401(k) program, and even though it didn’t match, I did want to set something up. However, HR took their sweet time sending someone over to help me get started.
Even though I anticipated it being 40 years before I retired, I didn’t want to wait any longer! So I did a little bit of research, and one day while visiting my parents, I asked, “Should I set up a Roth IRA?” This time, they didn’t laugh at me. Instead, I was told, “Absolutely!”
There are two things you need to know about investing for your future. The first: it is never too late. Second: you have a lot of options. You can go through your bank or a financial service like Merrill Lynch. Some banks work with services like Merrill Lynch. You can set up a 401(k), a Roth IRA, or a traditional IRA. You can do all three. And so on. On top of that, all of your options come with their own benefits and pitfalls. In addition to talking to family and friends, I recommend talking to someone who works in finance.
Saving for your future might seem impossible, but you can 100% do it in a way that works for you. Taking that first step might be daunting, but remember that there is no time like the present.