Securing your financial well-being is one of the most important things in life.
Contribute to your employer-sponsored retirement savings plan to help begin building a secure financial future.
There are many steps you can take to put yourself on a sound retirement savings footing. Increasing your contributions on a regular basis — say, during open enrollment, on your job anniversary date, the New Year, or your birthday — is a great and often painless way to increase your savings and could make a big difference at retirement time.
If you take any of these steps periodically, you may enjoy a significant boost to your account value by the time you retire. It doesn't take a lot to start saving. And every dollar may make a difference in the long run.
Now! When it comes to saving for retirement, time is your best friend. Over time, your money benefits from compounding — where you can earn interest on your interest. If you haven't begun saving through your employer's retirement savings plan, it's wise to start right away.
The power of compounding can be impressive, but it takes time for it to do its work. If you wait, you may miss a great opportunity and have to make much larger annual contributions later to help reach your retirement savings goal. Don’t procrastinate! See how starting early impacts how much more you can save for the future.
When it comes to retirement planning, we all know what saving is — putting your money away. But just as important is how to put your savings to work for you. Successful investing requires setting goals, evaluating the choices available, as well as understanding and managing risks. Learn the basics about mutual funds, stocks, bonds, asset allocation, and diversification.
A target date fund invests in a set of underlying mutual funds with different investment styles which invest in different asset classes, such as stocks, bonds and cash. The "target date" refers to a potential retirement date or the date when you plan to begin withdrawing money. Typically, the investments within a target date fund are weighted more towards equities when the target date is far away and adjusts over time, so that it becomes more heavily weighted towards bonds as the target date approaches.
However, each target date fund determines its own mix of equities and bonds so that two funds with the same target date may have different asset allocations between equities and bonds, different investment strategies and different risk profiles. In addition, while the "target date" may align with your goal for withdrawing money, a particular fund's asset mix may not coincide with your risk tolerance and financial situation. You should consult the prospectus for the fund for more details before you decide to invest.
Employee-sponsored retirement plans benefit from dollar cost averaging. But what is dollar cost averaging? It’s the process of investing a set amount of money at regular intervals over a long period of time — regardless of the share price. This approach can potentially reduce the risk of investing a large amount in a single investment when the cost per share is inflated. Basically, you purchase more shares when prices are low and fewer shares when prices are high.
Dollar cost averaging is a good way to develop a disciplined investing habit and the process can be automated. If you set up regular, automatic contributions, you’re less likely to miss the money you invest, more likely to develop investing discipline, and more likely to stick to your plan. It can also reduce the anxiety of trying to time the market and minimize regret for an investor who tends to pull out of the market when it takes a dip — potentially causing an inopportune loss in profit.
After you've decided how much to contribute to your retirement savings plan, you need to choose where those dollars will be invested — this process is called asset allocation. Investors typically diversify by allocating certain percentages of their accounts to one or more of the three major asset classes: stocks, bonds, and cash equivalents. Each asset class has its own risk and return characteristics. Also, each asset class has a benchmark index, which tracks a particular group of funds that are representative of a market, as a way of measuring that market's performance.
The idea behind diversification is that each type of funding option has strengths and weaknesses in various market situations. By spreading your money among various types of investments and asset classes, you take advantage of their respective strengths without exposing all of your plan account to an investment in one concentrated area. While diversification through an asset allocation strategy is a useful technique that can help to manage overall portfolio risk and volatility, there is no certainty or assurance that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall return or outperform one that is not diversified.
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