The following Tweet was posted by Vanguard this morning – “Delaying gratification, avoiding debt, & saving are all central to a financial literacy program for student”. We all know that we are more responsible for funding our retirement than at any time in the last 60 years, but just because we know doesn’t mean we have the ability to do so.
Defined Contribution plans are the vehicles of choice for most private sector employers, if not their employees. However, funding these plans, even to meet the company match, is not easy for many (most) low to middle income households. At KCS, we’ve discussed the benefits of participating in a DB plan versus a DC plan since our founding.
But, if you have a job, don’t have substantial student loan our housing debt, and can afford to make sizable contributions into your retirement program, it is better to delay gratification and make those contributions as early and often as possible. Why? Because the math of compounding truly works.
For instance, if a 22 year old can make a monthly contribution of $833 for 10 years, the $99,960 in contributions growing at 4% / year will become $438,393.12 upon reaching age 65. Again, that is with making contributions for only the first 10 years. At that point, you’ve basically funded your retirement and now you can begin acquire some of the other assets that you’ve been deferring.
However, if you can’t fund your retirement upfront with sizable monthly contributions, but can only put in $194 / month for the next 43 years growing at 4% until age 65, your balance upon retirement would only be $256,648.87, or roughly $182,000 less in total assets. WOW!
Finally, just think about how little you’ll be able to accumulate in your account if you delay making contributions until the age of 32. For instance, if you can only make that $194 / month for the next 33 years your account balance at age 65 is only $154,500, more than $100,000 less than you would have had if you began contributing the $194 / mo for the prior 10 years.
So, DC plans need funding often and early to be successful, but having the financial wherewithal is not a given, and having the discipline is not easy.