Sally Toro grew up poor. "I was never taught about saving or preparing for the future," she said.
Through her 20s and 30s, she saved nothing. When she was 39, Bea Martin, a coworker at the financial company she worked for, asked if she was using the company's 401(k). No, she answered. Between supporting her two daughters as a single mother and a salary of about $42,000, she simply could not afford to give up a cent.
"Do you know you are losing money by not putting in the minimum?" Martin asked. That got Toro's attention. Martin urged her to give it a shot, telling Toro she could always stop saving.
Toro started putting 2 percent of each paycheck aside. "I was terrified I wouldn't have $20 more on that paycheck," she said. But she remembered what Martin said, that in a year's time, she'd build up a cash reserve.
In a year, she accumulated about $4,000 and felt rich. "But I didn't have the guts to continue increasing," she said. Only when she moved onto another company did she begin slowly upping the percentage.
For the last eight years, Toro has actually been maxing out at $18,000 and even putting in the catchup contributions for those 50 and over.
A year ago she began working with a financial advisor. Between her 401(k) and two IRAs, she has close to $300,000 and hopes to retire at 62.
Whether it's your upbringing or lack of confidence, you need to take the risk of putting away even 2 percent," Toro said. "Be bold and try to save for yourself. It is your future."
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