Savings 101: Tips to help young-adult children save for retirement

Mark Henry, a certified estate planner as well as founder and chief executive officer of Alloy Wealth Management, offers five tips that parents can pass on to their young-adult children to help them start planning for retirement:

Don’t wait

Explain to them the importance of beginning retirement savings just as that they start their first job.

“While they reason that their salary is low as they start out, and they have bills, they need to make saving a disciplined habit, starting with just a little,” Henry says. “It’s not going to be easy to start saving later; you make more money, but then you’ve got more expenses. So start the important life habit now, and it will be easier then.”

Learn the basics

Retirement planning can be a boring topic for some young people, but Henry says tying its importance to a new job that gives them a big opportunity to get ahead financially can instill pride in learning some of the retirement basics.

“Young workers should at least understand the purpose of target-date funds,” Henry says. “Many plans offer these funds, which automatically adjust how a person’s money is invested based on their age and how close they are to retirement.”

Capitalize on the 401(k)

Their parents’ generation profited from this.

“Throw in the fact that pensions are gone for the most part — and their parents’ generation felt the brunt of this fall-off — and the kids should pay heed to a great way to save,” Henry says. “And the percentage a company matches the 401(k) is an important consideration.”

Increase contributions over time

Financial advisors generally recommend that you save between 10 and 15 percent of your pay for retirement. That’s usually too high for someone in their 20s, but Henry says, “You can work toward that goal by increasing your contribution by one or two percentage points every time you get a raise.”

Stick to an honest budget

“Help them learn to budget money with three simple categories: give, save, and spend,” Henry says.

“With this foundation, they’ll learn how rewarding it is to set a savings goal and regularly put aside money to reach it, which is the basis for successful retirement investing.

“Parents today know the younger you are when you begin retirement investing, the more money you can have when it’s time to retire,” Henry says. “They need to emphasize that to their kids, and they can teach them by starting with simple concepts and building on them over time.”

Mark Henry is a certified estate planner as well as founder and CEO of Alloy Wealth Management ( Henry has more than 30 years of experience in business and finance. He is also an investment advisor representative.