On the one hand, it’s difficult to plead total ignorance about money midway through your working career because you’ve likely been paying your monthly bills, been exposed to the option of contributing to a retirement plan (a 401k, IRA, brokerage, or other types of investment accounts), you may have leased/rented or purchased a car or a house, and perhaps had some other thoughts or exposure to investments. You’re not new to money.
Investing in a Stranger: the Future You
On the other hand, many people have a difficult time associating the future you–say, 20-30 years from now when you’re preparing to retire, with you today. The “future you” almost seems so distant that the person might as well be a stranger.
But, if you won’t invest for your financial future, then who will invest for you?
Learn to be an Informed Financial Consumer
Your investment goals reflect the life you’d like to live. That means you’ll need to learn (or get some guidance) to set up and manage your own investment accounts, align your comfort level with investment risk with the risk your investments are taking, and learn how to manage debt (credit card debt, mortgage debt, car loan debt, student loan debt, etc.).
Know More, Earn More . . . and Invest More
The more education and experience you have in your job the more valuable you are likely to be to a company (or to your own company if you’re self-employed). From mid-career, you also have time to build your wealth. Remember to use increased compensation for increased investing toward tomorrow’s goals, not just for today’s spending.
Consistent investing and time to grow adds up. You’d be surprised how much you can contribute toward your future financial well-being. Invest over time and expect growth.
Too Many Plans Means Too Much Hassle.
It’s difficult enough to invest but keeping track of too many accounts can make this job unnecessarily difficult. But, this is often what happens. People change jobs all the time. You may be enrolled in your new employer’s retirement plan as a benefit of your new job. But what to do with the retirement plan at your old job? It takes effort and forms and a decision to move it so many don’t move it. The more employers you have the more investment plans you may have. Keeping track of too many retirement plans–none of which may get the attention it deserves–can lead to a lack of investment progress. Too many plans to manage may seem like too much trouble.
Simplify to Amplify
Unless there’s a good reason to keep those plans separate, consolidate the plans into one (or fewer). This way, you can focus your contributions and efforts on one plan–the driving investment force for your retirement. One plan is easier to manage, invest in, and grow.
Travel Lighter: Get Rid of Excess Account Baggage
It’s not difficult to accumulate too many investment and retirement accounts (401k or other plans) as we go through life, moving from job to job. Only you have the power to manage those plans, keeping them few and simple and focused–so you can focus on your investment goals.