When you imagine yourself in retirement, what sort of picture comes to mind? Do you see yourself traveling a lot, joining a country club, or living in a city with plenty of nightlife?
If those are some of your retirement goals, then you may need a lot of money to pull them off. This especially holds true if you plan to retire early.
In fact, you may need several million dollars to your name to pull off your dream retirement. And the good news is that these simple moves could be your ticket to meeting that savings objective.
1. Start saving from a young age
When it comes to growing retirement wealth, time is your greatest asset. If you start saving $600 a month for retirement at age 23, and you invest it at an average annual 7% return (more on that in a bit), then by age 68, you'll have just over $2 million. Wait 10 years to start saving, and you'll still have an impressive $995,000 nest egg, but you'll fall way short of multimillionaire status.
2. Get free money in your 401(k)
Many companies that offer 401(k) plans also match worker contributions. This doesn't mean your company will match every dollar you put in. But you may, for example, be entitled to a dollar-for-dollar match on contributions of up to 5% of your salary. If you earn $60,000 a year, that means if you put in $3,000 of your own money, you'll get another $3,000 from your employer.
3. Stay away from unhealthy debt
Any interest you lose to debt payments is money that can't go into your retirement plan. While it's OK to finance your home with a mortgage loan (since most people can't just purchase a house outright), it's a bad idea to make a habit of carrying credit card balances. Not only can that type of debt be costly, but it can also prevent you from meeting your savings goals.
4. Invest your savings in stocks
Some people are afraid to invest in stocks because they think they're too risky. But while stocks can be volatile, they also have a tendency to reward investors who hold them for many years.
In the example above, $324,000 in total out-of-pocket contributions ($7,200 a year x 45 years) became $2 million when invested at an average annual 7% return. That 7% is a few percentage points below the stock market's average. If you were to invest that same amount in bonds and snag a 4% average annual return in your portfolio, your ending balance would be $871,000.
If you're worried that you don't know how to choose the right stocks for your retirement portfolio, consider buying index funds. In fact, if you load up on S&P 500 index funds, you'll effectively get to own 500 different stocks with a single, simple investment.
You don't need to earn a fortune throughout your career to retire a multimillionaire. You just need to start working toward that goal early and efficiently so you can reap the rewards down the line.