Whisper "any investment you make in yourself is an investment toward your retirement" three times.

How to Save for Retirement When You Make Less Than $30,000 a Year

Retirement is a difficult concept for young people to wrap their heads around. It’s hard enough figuring out how to be An Adult, let alone An Old.

We’ll be talking more broadly in the near future about the general concept of retirement. (Spoiler alert: it’s as outdated as an avocado-colored refrigerator.) But today I’d like to talk directly about the concept of saving for retirement while pretty legit poor.

For purposes of this post, I’m going to define that as someone making $30,000 a year or less. Obviously there are lots of factors that can stretch this figure. A mom of three with a high school education in Washington, D.C. is going to have a much harder time than a single, highly-educated person making the same amount in Woodstock, Alabama. And actually, that number is still more than double the official so-called “poverty line,” which is just over $12,000.

But Piggy and I feel strongly that there isn’t enough realistic, valuable advice for people in this general bracket, and so we’d like to talk to them.

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Most Millennials I know do not have an IRA. This is because it is viewed much like the burning bush: awesome and powerful, but completely mysterious and baffling.

Dafuq Is a Retirement Plan and Why Do You Need One?

For young’uns like us, old age and retirement couldn’t seem further away. And yet the thing about retirement is it goes way smoother if you prep for it in advance. Which is why all of us—yes, even you fresh-faced recent graduates—need a retirement plan.

The term “retirement plan” itself is a bit misleading. It suggests there’s a singular, one-size-fits-all tool for preparing to live out your sunset years in the lap of luxury. In reality, not only is there no one single retirement savings tool that works for everyone, but most people use multiple “retirement plans.”

Join me, dear readers, as I guide you through an entirely-too-detailed tour of the most common forms of retirement plans. Keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times and please don’t feed the wildlife.

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You don't want to find yourself financially preparing for your own retirement years only to find without warning that you suddenly have two aging dependents to account for in your annual budget.

You Need to Talk to Your Parents About Their Retirement Plan

I don’t give a flying nun about inheriting money when my parents eventually buy the farm. As far as I’m concerned, it’s their hard-earned dough and they should use every goddamn penny of it to enjoy their retirement and live comfortably until the day they die. In fact, I truly hope they do!

But one of the greatest gifts they can give me instead is the knowledge that their retirement and passing won’t be a financial burden on me. Knowing that my parents have a solid retirement plan will grant me enormous peace of mind. It will allow me to focus on growing my own wealth so that when I get to the age where I’m allowed to be embarrassingly blunt in public, I won’t be dragging down the finances of my younger relatives.

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