Care about your future. This is more critical than most people realize: You need to care about what happens to your future self. Yes, we all want to be “successful,” but what does that mean? Do you actively want to retire early, or are you content with working through the traditional lifespan of a typical worker in our society? In 20 years, do you see yourself living in the same house? Working the same job? Driving the same car? What will change?
For the record, it’s okay if you have no interest in retiring early. But knowing exactly what you want out of life – whatever that happens to be – will guide your money’s purpose.
Invest. If your company matches 401k contributions, at least contribute that amount. Remember, 401ks are pre-tax money, which means not only is your company shoveling you cold hard cash, but you’re lowering your tax burden by a dollar-for-dollar contribution into your 401k account.
Brokerage accounts work, too. We like Targeted Retirement investment accounts and have heavily utilized their automatic diversification strategy so we don’t have to worry about all that. Seriously, we just throw money into our brokerage account and literally forget it. There’s no secret sauce to getting rich in the market. Besides time. You gotta give it time.
Persistence. Early retirement is easy, but it’s not quick. It takes time, just like most goals worth striving toward. Avoid the rookie mistake of expecting 20 percent capital gains in the first year of investing your dough. It doesn’t happen that way, even in today’s outrageously lucrative market.
Your life’s purpose takes time, just like your money’s. Don’t expect miracles with your money. Reality doesn’t work that way. Budget and invest. Then, stick with it. I mean really stick with it. Keep throwing those greenbacks into your investment accounts. Month after month. Year after year.
That persistence adds up into mountains of cold hard retirement cash.
Here's how much Americans have saved for retirement
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A version of this article originally appeared on Think Save Retire.