Sunday, December 16, 2012
Retirement may be a long way off for you – or it might be right around the corner. No matter how near or far it is, you’ve absolutely got to start saving for it now. However, saving for retirement isn’t what it used to be with the increase in cost of living and the instability of social security. You have to invest for your retirement, as opposed to saving for it! Let’s start by taking a look at the retirement plan offered by your company. Once upon a time, these plans were quite sound. However, after the Enron upset and all that followed, people aren’t as secure in their company retirement plans anymore. If you choose not to invest in your company’s retirement plan, you do have other options. First, you can invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, certificates of deposit, and money market accounts. You do not have to state to anybody that the returns on these investments are to be used for retirement. Just simply let your money grow overtime, and when certain investments reach their maturity, reinvest them and continue to let your money grow. You can also open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). IRA’s are quite popular because the money is not taxed until you withdraw the funds. You may also be able to deduct your IRA contributions from the taxes that you owe. An IRA can be opened at most banks. A ROTH IRA is a newer type of retirement account. With a Roth, you pay taxes on the money that you are investing in your account, but when you cash out, no federal taxes are owed. Roth IRA’s can also be opened at a financial institution. Another popular type of retirement account is the 401(k). 401(k’s) are typically offered through employers, but you may be able to open a 401(k) on your own. You should speak with a financial planner or accountant to help you with this. The Keogh plan is another type of IRA that is suitable for self employed people. Self-employed small business owners may also be interested in Simplified Employee Pension Plans (SEP). This is another type of Keogh plan that people typically find easier to administer than a regular Keogh plan. Whichever retirement investment you choose, just make sure you choose one! Again, do not depend on social security, company retirement plans, or even an inheritance that may or may not come through! Take care of your financial future by investing in it today.
If you are anxious to get your investments started, you can get started right away without having a lot of knowledge about the stock market. Start by being a conservative investor with a low risk tolerance. This will give you a way to making your money grow while you learn more about investing. Start with an interest bearing savings account. You may already have one. If you don’t, you should. A savings account can be opened at the same bank that you do your checking at – or at any other bank. A savings account should pay 2 – 4% on the money that you have in the account. It’s not a lot of money – unless you have a million dollars in that account – but it is a start, and it is money making money. Next, invest in money market funds. This can often be done through your bank. These funds have higher interest payouts than typical savings accounts, but they work much the same way. These are short term investments, so your money won’t be tied up for a long period of time – but again, it is money making money. Certificates of Deposit are also sound investments with no risk. The interest rates on CD’s are typically higher than those of savings accounts or Money Market Funds. You can select the duration of your investment, and interest is paid regularly until the CD reaches maturity. CD’s can be purchased at your bank, and your bank will insure them against loss. When the CD reaches maturity, you receive your original investment, plus the interest that the CD has earned. If you are just starting out, one or all of these three types of investments is the best starting point. Again, this will allow your money to start making money for you while you learn more about investing in other places.
Depending on the type of investing that you plan to do, you may need to hire a broker to handle your investments for you. Brokers work for brokerage houses and have the ability to buy and sell stock on the stock exchange. You may wonder if you really need a broker. The answer is yes. If you intend to buy or sell stocks on the stock exchange, you must have a broker. Stockbrokers are required to pass two different tests in order to obtain their license. These tests are very difficult, and most brokers have a background in business or finance, with a Bachelors or Masters Degree. It is very important to understand the difference between a broker and a stock market analyst. An analyst literally analyzes the stock market, and predicts what it will or will not do, or how specific stocks will perform. A stock broker is only there to follow your instructions to either buy or sell stock… not to analyze stocks. Brokers earn their money from commissions on sales in most cases. When you instruct your broker to buy or sell a stock, they earn a set percentage of the transaction. Many brokers charge a flat ‘per transaction’ fee. There are two types of brokers: Full service brokers and discount brokers. Full service brokers can usually offer more types of investments, may provide you with investment advice, and is usually paid in commissions. Discount brokers typically do not offer any advice and do no research – they just do as you ask them to do, without all of the bells and whistles. So, the biggest decision you must make when it come to brokers is whether you want a full service broker or a discount broker. If you are new to investing, you may need to go with a full service broker to ensure that you are making wise investments. They can offer you the skill that you lack at this point. However, if you are already knowledgeable about the stock market, all you really need is a discount broker to make your trades for you.