Hi wise mamas,
My DH and I are both 31 and for the first time in our lives have a little extra to think about investing for retirement. (I know and feel guilty about starting at this age but we just need to start from where we are!). The issue is that I am a total beginner about researching this and I don't know where to start or who to trust to advise us. Here are a few details:
- We could invest about $4000 at this time and then add about $150 per month after that.
- Neither of us have matching programs at work.
- We feel strongly about not putting our money towards causes that we don't want to support (tobacco and oil companies for example).
What should I look into? Any advice on where to start? Thanks!
That's great that you're in a good financial position!
First, you mention you have no matching. Do you have a 401(k) or 403(b) *without* matching available?
Do you wan to divide this money evenly between the two of you, or just one account?
Is this exclusively for retirement (you have other savings vehicles for other things) or does it need to be more accessable?
A good first step would be to read a basic book like "Investing for Dummies." I love "the Dummies" books!
As the PP mentioned, you probably want to look in to a Roth IRA. You probably already know this, but an IRA is an investment *vehicle* not an investment itself. So, it is a way to save not a specific investment. You hold investments within the IRA--- those could be almost anything: stocks, bonds, cash, investment property...
Personally, I think the easiest thing to do would go to a major discount broker (Fidelidy, Vanguard and one other are all commonly recommended) and look into their Roth IRA options. You can then make month deposits into this account. You can stop those deposits (or increase or decrease them) at any time as long as your account balance is above the agreed upon minimum.
Right now, you can contribute up to $5K yearly into an IRA. This is per adult household member--- even if you don't make that much in income, PERSONALLY. So, if one person in the household makes at least $10K, then both people could put in the full $5K even if one of them doesn't work. A Traditional IRA is tax-deductable (so, if you qualify based on income, you don't pay tax *now* on the money you invest. You do pay taxes when you withdraw the money at retirement, though). A Roth IRA is not tax-deductable: you pay taxes on it now. When you take it *out* though, the money (including growth) is tax free. There are a couple more things that make the Roth very attractive (for example, you can take out the money you put in (not the growth) at any time without penalty). There are additional reasons you can withdraw it without penalty, but of course, it would be best to just leave it there.
For now, DP & I have our Roths in "age adjusted" investments. So, all you do is determine when you want to retire (since you're 31 right now, most people would aim for 65 and say 2046) and then invest in that "years" portfolio. Most investment places go by 5 year increments, so you could go with 2045 or 2050 or a combination of them. They will start out heavily in stocks/mutual funds and slowly transition (as you age) into more secure, income generating, investments. If you are more comfortable with risk, you could also just invest in an index fund.
I hope that helps!
I'm sorry I didn't address this earlier. You can ask about "social" or "ethical" mutual funds. You'll need to make sure their definition matches yours but they are an option. Good luck!
Being old and poor is bad. Trust me. I have a lot of relatives in this position and it is not pretty.
So, either invest in a Roth IRA or in a 401K. Both have good tax advantages. A lot of times 401ks are pretty cheap investment options because they have low fees. And commit that any bonuses or raises will go into these accounts until you *at least* hit the maximum 401K ($16,500) contribution per year. You are walking away from major tax savings if you forgo this benefit.