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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Procrastinating on opening a retirement account? Here's 3 ways that'll fuck you over.

Procrastinating on Opening a Retirement Account? Here’s 3 Ways That’ll Fuck You Over.

If I had to rank all the things I love to do in my precious free time, where would opening a retirement account fall? Let me see, hmm… Above a root canal, but below politely accepting a religious tract from a door-knocking missionary. What can I say? Some of them have pretty nice artwork!

Have you been procrastinating on opening your retirement account? Feeling lazy? Avoidant? Afraid of the paperwork? Feel like you’d rather use that money on stuff right now? Obviously I feel you.

But buck up, son! I’m about to tell you why you can’t afford not to open a retirement account.

To recap: Americans have access to two main kinds of retirement accounts.

First, a 401(k)—or 403(b), if you work for a nonprofit—is a retirement fund facilitated by your employer. You set it up so they can take money directly out of your paycheck and squirrel it safely away for you to use when you’re terrorizing orderlies in the nursing home. That way you can focus on maintaining your record as Wheelchair Drag Race Champion of Shady Hills Retirement Community and not get distracted by petty financial concerns.

Pictured here: retirement goals.

Second, there’s IRAs (individual retirement accounts). IRAs are very similar to 401(k)s, but they’re attached to you directly instead of your employer. There are other differences, but meh, they’re pretty minor. You can get acquainted with the finer points later.

Retirement accounts are powerful tools for growing wealth and stability for your future self. The trick is you have to opt into your retirement account. If you’re self-employed, or you work for a company that doesn’t offer 401(k)s, you need to go out and open your own IRA. And if you work for a company that offers 401(k)s, you need to sign up and voluntarily tell someone to NOT give you part of your paycheck every month.

As broke as you are right now, ignoring a perfectly good retirement fund is a terrible idea. Because if you do that, you’ll lose money in three different ways.

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