Viewpoint of age is always interesting. At age 21, retirement seems so far away it might as well be another lifetime. Yet that same person reaches age 65 and says, “How did it get here so fast?” In between we can be so caught up in day-to-day work, life and activities that we don’t realize that retirement, in actuality, is just over the hill.
At every stage of life it seems there is always a reason “not to worry about it just now.” A 25-year-old may tell himself, “I can start saving when I’m 30; right now I am paying student loans.” A 35-year-old might say, “I’ll start after I’m 40, right now I have to save for a down payment on a house.” Of course, that type of thinking will inevitably wind one up in retirement years wishing he or she had also put some care and consideration into retirement, along with all the other exigencies.
How soon should one start planning for retirement? The answer is now. It isn't a matter of fatalism or “the accepting of the inevitable”—it is a question of actually having a comfortable and secure retirement in place by the time you arrive there.
Moving back to age 21, when retirement is the very farthest thing from one's mind, there is much one can do to start securing a comfortable retirement. It can be as simple as starting a savings account or CD that you never touch. Or, start taking a percentage of your income and begin to invest it in instruments that should have long-term appreciation, in such a way that the principal is never touched until you really need it. Forming such simple habits at a young age is a good start toward planning for the future and eventual retirement. To get an idea of how saving a little at a young age can help finance your retirement, use an online calculator to do the math.
One's middle age is generally the highest income-producing period. This time also tends to be the busiest, and for that reason retirement planning can be low on the priority list. But too many find out upon reaching retirement that there was much more that could have been done during the earning years to ensure retirement was safe and secure. Investing in longer-term instruments, such as non-traded REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts, for example Apple REITs), means that something is potentially placed there for the future. There are also numerous mutual funds, such as the Spirit of America family of funds that offer several routes to help provide for you now, as well as into retirement years.
Retirement planning should always be a priority, in every stage of life. If it is, you will have really helped yourself to walk into a sound retirement when you finally arrive there.