In January of 2019, I taught a room full of CUNY students at Macaulay Honors College, my alma mater, about how to invest for retirement. Most of the students were sophomores and juniors with little to no knowledge of investing and how to prepare for retirement.
This makes sense. After all, our public education system and colleges aren’t required to teach courses on personal finance or “how to adult”. One of the main goals as a working adult is saving for retirement.
What did I teach?
A whole bunch of topics including budgeting, emergency funds, 401(k), IRA, and the Stock Market. I transformed my Simple Guide to Retirement for Young Professionals into a presentation.
I started the workshop with this chart about how to go from from $0 to $2,714,541.46 on a $50,000 salary. Who doesn’t want $2.7 million to kickoff retirement? My hope, with this chart, was to tell students that it is possible to retire comfortably without a 6 figure salary.
For the purposes of the audience and due to limited time, I could only speak about the first three steps in this flowchart. I started with the emergency fund step and finished on the contribute the yearly maximum amount to your IRA step.
If given enough time, I would have loved to go over this entire flowchart but the first three steps are more than sufficient in attaining a comfortable retirement.
1) Build at least a 3 month emergency fund
2) Contribute the minimum to match for your 401(k) - free money
3) Contribute the maximum for your IRA
A good portion of the workshop was delegated to taxes, investing, and the stock market. As many of us know, you do not need to be an investing guru to invest for retirement. You just need to look at the historical data and draw conclusions for your retirement situation.
Hint: Invest in Total Market Index Funds when you are young.
What did I learn from the students?
1) Students care about being financially savvy and want to be more prepared than their parents were.
2) Students need training to teach them how to set up investment accounts and buy mutual funds.
What is next for me and Tomoon?
Well, if you want me to speak at your college or even with your friends and family, I’m happy to. Let’s connect and get working on your future in retirement.
Everyone deserves access to knowledge about personal finance, especially when it comes to retirement. This is even more important if you come from a low income background.
I have been writing blog posts non-stop on a biweekly basis for 8 months now. It has been a rewarding process, but I will be writing on more of an ad-hoc schedule.
I want to take more time to build better tools to help students and young professionals navigate retirement. Blog posts are a great place to share knowledge and teach. Beyond knowledge and teaching is application. We need to apply what we learn.
Right now, the world needs an unbiased and free platform to guide people when it comes to preparing for retirement and this blog is just the beginning of better things to come.
If you have an idea for what financial tools you need or for future topics you’d like to see in a post, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover Image Credit: Annie Spratt
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