Obviously, the answer is as soon as possible. But it’s hard to know when it’s time to really buckle down when you’re young and in debt.
Tony and I are 24 and 25, and I had hoped to start saving for retirement this year. But the more I look at our finances and goals, the more I hesitate to start now.
As a grad student, Tony obviously doesn’t have access to an employer-based retirement fund. Neither do I in my current job. So any retirement saving we do at this point will be on our own.
We’d like to open a Roth IRA and start saving a little every month, even if it’s just $50 each. We can always increase that amount later. But then I start thinking about our debt and our likely cross country move in less than two years and all of our other goals, and I can’t help but feel like that money would be better spent on debt and liquid savings at this point in our lives.
I know that saving for retirement is essential, especially for my generation. But I feel like 20-somethings in debt should focus more on becoming debt free. Otherwise, we could wind up paying student loan debt until it’s time to send our own kids to college.
Even though our income is relatively low, I almost never feel deprived. This is one area where I really feel the constraint of our low income, though. After our bills are paid and our necessities are covered, there just isn’t enough left over to save for emergencies, save for our future, and pay down debt. If I split up the extra money between the three, I feel like we’re not making any headway on any of them. But if I concentrate my efforts on one or two, then I feel guilty for foregoing the third.
My fear is that it will only get harder, especially since we plan to live on one income. If we can’t find room in the budget for retirement savings now, how we will be able to once we increase our financial responsibilities and have children?
I trust I’m not the only 20-something in this predicament.
When did you start saving for retirement? Is it crazy for me to wait another couple years?