Time for your IRA is slipping away

Published 10:37 pm Thursday, February 20, 2014

By Nathan Rice

It seems like just the other day we were all preparing for the impending doom of Y2K, but today we are in the year 2014.

We never seem to have an answer to the question we all ask, “Where did the time go?” The accelerated rate at which time seems to evaporate makes planning for retirement something that should not be put off until a later date.

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The need for retirement planning has also increased because of the changing nature of businesses during the past several decades. The days of company pension plans have gone the way of eight-track players and VHS tapes; you may see them some places, but they’re becoming harder and harder to find.

While many companies still offer 401k plans, with some employers matching contributions, the responsibility for retirement has become that of the individual.

Even if we know we need to plan for retirement, we often fail to act, because we are simply not sure where to begin or how to invest. While it may seem complicated, there are some simple steps we can take to begin building a nest egg.

First and foremost, be sure to know your company’s retirement plan. Do they offer a 401k? Find out if your employer matches employee contributions and to what percentage? Then make sure you contribute at least what your company will match. Anything less is turning down free money for your future.

Most financial institutions offer IRA accounts. Individual retirement accounts are specifically designed for retirement savings, and they are a great way to begin saving for your golden years.

Sometimes people think IRAs require a lot of cash to get started or are only for the wealthy, but this is simply not the case. Some financial institutions have IRA savings accounts that can be started with as little as $100. Contributions to your IRA can then be made easily by setting up an automatic transfer from your savings or checking account.

Many times you can even contribute a designated amount from your direct deposit every payday. This gives a very easy and simple way to build that IRA. Every contribution helps, and even if you aren’t currently able to put a lot away every paycheck, these small amounts will add up over time.

If you already have an IRA account, now is time to check the rate you are earning and compare it to the rates offered elsewhere. Rates have been low recently, but they are beginning to climb.

You are allowed to move an IRA from one institution to another, and a little bit of research can help you earn more on what you have already saved.

Finally, speak with a financial service representative about your desire to save for retirement. There are different types of IRAs, and each one has its own benefits. Work with that representative to create a plan that works for you.

The time to plan for your retirement is now. Don’t wait until “tomorrow,” because time is not going to slow down.

Nathan Rice is the Relationship Manager of the Downtown Suffolk branch of ABNB Federal Credit Union. He is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.