Generational Wealth Planning

Written by: Annette Harris, May 28, 2021

When saving for retirement, each generation has challenges and advantages. Challenges young adults face are student loan debt, lower-income levels, childcare expenses, homeownership expenses, and a lack of financial knowledge. These factors can decrease the funds available to set aside for retirement. These expenses are also current and need to be paid immediately, which leads to retirement savings being less of a priority. Generation X are mid-life individuals who are nearing retirement in a few short years. To eliminate income inequity in retirement, it's important to start planning now.


Younger adults should focus on increasing their financial knowledge to secure their financial future. It’s common for younger adults to graduate college, gain employment, and not understand the benefits offered by their employer. Inquiring about the retirement plan options, evaluating plan documents, and the risks and benefits of the funds within the plan should be a top priority. Understanding these factors can help make sure that you are educated on the benefits available to you. Finally, taking advantage of the employer matching options at the beginning of your career can help guide you in building a secure retirement. The matching contributions in retirement plans are free money and beneficial to growing a retirement fund.

See my contribution to Jami Farkas’ article Top 10 Things Every College Grad Should Know About Money in Yahoo News.

Generation X

Individuals in their 40s are nearing the age of retirement in a few short years. During this time, you should attempt to boost your retirement savings. You can accomplish this by maximizing the retirement contributions offered by your employer. If you receive an annual pay increase, adding another percentage to your contributions could be used to make sure you build a financially secure retirement. The most significant factor is to take advantage of the employer’s matching contributions. If your employer matches the first six percent of retirement contributions, take advantage of the free money offered to you.

Video: Saving for retirement: Tips to eliminate retirement income inequity

Mortgage Elimination

Individuals in their 40s should focus on debt elimination. Most people in their 40s have children who are no longer in daycare and tend to have steady income increases. If either of these is the case, you can start focusing on reducing or eliminating their mortgage payment.

Here are some tips to make this happen:

1. Evaluate your monthly income and expenses.

2. Determine where a surplus can be applied to the principal of your mortgage.

3. Pay an extra dollar amount to the principal of your mortgage.

These steps will allow you to cut your monthly interest payment and knock years off a 30-year mortgage.

See my contribution to Mikaela Sullivan’s article Money Advice for Your 40s in Accredited Debt Relief.

Millennials & Retirement

Written by: Annette Harris, May 15, 2021

Saving for retirement may not seem like a priority when you are young. When college students graduate, they tend to be ready to conquer the world, but are they ready? Not possessing adequate financial knowledge about how to prepare for retirement after college can lead to a failure to invest in a secure retirement plan. Before starting a job after college millennials should educate themselves on the barriers to retirement and ways that they can be financially ready to retire.

Learn from your Mistakes

Most millennials in their 30’s have had adequate time to prepare and learn from the mistakes of not investing in their retirement early. Not investing early has caused some millennials in their 30’s to have to catch up and recover from not investing in their 20’s but will allow them to have a large financial cushion in place at retirement age. However, 20% of younger millennials in their 20’s may not have adequate funds for retirement. Younger millennials want to chart their own path in life and do not follow the traditional method of staying in one profession throughout their lifetime. do not seem to value loyalty to a specific employer, nor do they want to commit to one profession for the long term. This method of professional employment may not enable them to become “vested” into an organization’s retirement plan or increase their income level consistently, due to “job hopping” and constant career changes.

See: Millennials May not be Retiring Soon—But They are Already Planning for it

Barriers to Retirement

One of the biggest barriers preventing millennials from being financially ready to retire is employers shifting from pension plans to defined contribution plans or 401(k)’s. The shift to defined contribution and 401(k) plans compels an individual to remain with a company long enough to become vested in a retirement plan. Ultimately, not contributing to a voluntary retirement plan offered by employers is like throwing money down the proverbial drain and can lead to reduced funding availability in an individual’s retirement years.

Video Link: How much are you going to need for retirement?

Steps to Prepare for Retirement

To be financially ready to retire millennials should take the following steps:

  • Educate themselves on the retirement plan offered by their employer (vesting, funds, and fees).

  • Invest a percentage that takes advantage of the employer contribution match.

  • If you are self-employed, seek out a retirement plan contribution option.

  • Evaluate their monthly income and expenses to determine where to find more cost savings to invest in retirement.

See my contributions to Jami Farkas’ Yahoo Finance Article: Top 10 Things Every College Grad Should Know About

Preparing for your retirement in your 20’s is the best way to maximize the benefits offered by your employer. So, take advantage of the offerings as soon as they are available and continue to increase your contributions as your financial situation changes. It’s never too late to invest in yourself.

How to Become a 401(k) Millionaire

Written by: Annette Harris, April 15, 2021

When saving for retirement, it's not always easy to know where to start. The myriad of retirement plans available can be confusing. If you don't have a representative who can guide you and explain what funds and fees are within the retirement plan, then you may give up and walk away. But wait! When you walk away, you are giving away free money and delaying your savings for retirement.

So, how do you start saving for retirement? You start saving for retirement by investing in your employer's plan as soon as you are eligible. Prior to becoming eligible do research and educate yourself on the funds within the plan and the fees associated with that plan. Most employers will put your retirement savings into a Target Retirement Fund if you do not make an election. This could be the most secure option for you until you are able to do research on the available funds. However, don't stop there when determining the best return on investment for your retirement fund.

Educate Yourself

Here are some things that you can do to educate yourself on your investment options:

  • Talk to a financial advisor.

  • Decide your risk tolerance (stocks versus bonds).

  • Call the funding organization or go to their website to compare the fund options.

After determining your risk tolerance and selecting the funds you want to invest your retirement savings in, INVEST in your future. The most important step is to act as soon as possible. Find out how Fritz Gilbert did it.

Investing Young

Investing as a young adult will give you the best return on investment for when you reach retirement age. If your employer offers a matching contribution, you reap the benefits of the free money received by the plan. Yes, I said free. When employers offer matching contributions to your retirement plan, they are giving you free money to invest in yourself. You also reduce your tax rate from year to year because your money is held in a tax-deferred savings plan. Now, how bad could a lower tax rate be? Find out more about reducing your taxable income from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Video: How to become a 401(k) Millionaire

Continued Growth

Now that your retirement fund is set up, how do you continue to grow your retirement fund? You can continue to grow your retirement fund by increasing your retirement contribution percentage or dollar amount whenever you receive a pay increase. Even increasing your contributions by 1% annually can add to your long-term savings and you may not notice the difference when receiving a pay increase. Also, as you pay off debt and you find that you have additional funds available in your bank account think about increasing your retirement contributions. The return on investment you receive from your retirement fund will exceed the interest received from diverting the funds into a savings account.

Your retirement plan could contain $1,040,106* at the age of 65 if you start investing at 20 with a starting annual salary of $30,000. Yes, you can become a 401(k) millionaire! Calculate your options here at

This was calculated with a contribution of $1,800 per year and a current 401(k) balance of $0, 2% annual salary increase, and a 7% annual rate of return. The plan has you contributing 6% of your annual salary up to the IRS annual maximum of $18,000 and an employer match of 50% of the 6% contribution.*