Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Doing something instead of waiting to do the perfect thing

I haven't been saving for retirement for the last three or so years. My husband had heard somewhere that if you had credit card debt, you should make paying that off a priority instead of saving for retirement, so we agreed to put our money into paying down balances. We made some bad decisions when we were younger that we are still paying for, quite literally. I also have some student loans that won't be paid off for several more years.

Lately, though, I have been reconsidering. It may take us a while to pay the balances down. There may never be a time where it feels easy to save for the future. And meanwhile, we are getting older. I remember attending a seminar on retirement planning, and the speaker said that a mistake women commonly make is feeling overwhelmed by the options and waiting to do anything until they can research further, which usually means they do nothing. And even though I attended that seminar years ago, guess what I have been doing since? At the same seminar they talked about financial planners, and wills, and all that stuff. I didn't want to deal with all of that, so I did nothing.

We aren't totally irresponsible. My husband works for a state employer that puts away part of his paycheck pretax into a retirement fund. I used to contribute to that fund for a while myself, and if I ever work for the state again, I could probably buy my years at my current employer.  I contributed to 403(b)s on and off early in my career, and have that money in a rollover account. Since I work for a private university now instead of a public one, I'm paying into Social Security again, and because I started working part-time jobs when I was 16, I have quite a few years of credits there too. But I think we should be doing something more. I want us to have money not just for the essentials, but a little left over to travel and enjoy ourselves.

I got a statement from one of my 403(b)s and called the company and talked with an agent. I talked it over with my husband and we decided on an amount to start with.  I got the forms about a week ago, and today I finally filled them out. Instead of agonizing over all the options, I checked the box for a one-step account that adjusts itself over time for a given retirement date. I picked the year that I will turn 65: 2035.  It may not be genius investing, but it's something. I can always make changes later. I am going to get them in the mail today, before I have any more time to think about it. As I learned in graduate school, "Sometimes done is good enough."

4 comments:

  1. good for you! age based funds are a good idea when you don't have time to mess with it. I'm guessing that fund is heavily weighted in stocks right now, which makes sense for you at your age. and investing monthly gives you an advantage of buying stocks when they go lower. When your portfolio gets bigger, find an advisor. A good advisor will help you in deciding how to invest your 403b's too. Roth IRAs also make sense, when you have money available outside of the 403b contributions. Who knows what the tax/retirement picture will look in 20 years? We'll prob have to work until we drop. :)

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  2. and, btw, we work with out of town clients, so if you ever want advice, let me know.

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    1. Thanks, I will keep that in mind. I didn't realize that's what you did -- I thought you were in real estate.

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    2. My husband Mark has been a financial advisor since June 1993. almost 20 years!

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