This article was originally published by Motif Investing.
Saving for retirement is one of those things that just about everyone needs to think about but few too people plan for. Perhaps not surprisingly, 1 in 3 Americans say they have $0 for their later years. Among those who are actively saving, 23 percent have less than $10,000 socked away.
When it comes to growing your nest egg, the sooner you start the better but if you missed the boat in your 20s, it’s not too late to get caught up in your 30s. The first step is recognizing what’s been holding you back. Here are some of the most common excuses for avoiding investing—and how to overcome them.
Lack of funds is often at the top of the list of reasons why more Americans aren’t playing the market. In a 2015 Bankrate survey, 53 percent of respondents said they weren’t putting money into stocks or other investments because they simply didn’t have it to spare.
On the one hand, that’s understandable if you’re paying down credit cards or student loans. The average student loan debt is just over $30,000 and American household credit debt averages more than $16,000, both of which could put a pinch on your wallet.
That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s wise to wait until all your debt is gone to start investing. If you invest $100 a month in a mutual fund generating a 6 percent annual return starting at age 35 and keep saving that same amount until age 65, you’d have just over $100,000 saved. Wait until age 45, however, and that goes down to just under $47,000.
Choosing an investment platform that doesn’t require several thousand dollars to get started is a good way to ease into investing without draining your bank account. With Motif, for example, there’s no minimum required to open an account and you can begin investing in motifs with as little as $300. You can continue building your portfolio incrementally via recurring deposits in amounts that fit your budget.
Another common excuse for not investing is one that’s relatively easy to overcome: a lack of knowledge about stocks.
Only 16 percent of Americans view stocks as the best investments for the long-term, according to a 2016 survey from Bankrate. Thirty-two percent of 30-something investors said they were more comfortable sticking with cash, despite the fact that stocks outstrip savings accounts or certificates of deposit (CDs) where returns are concerned.
While it certainly doesn’t hurt to read up on the basics of stocks and investing, you don’t need to be Warren Buffett to cash in on the benefits that stocks offer. In fact, understanding what your investment goals and risk tolerance are can be more useful than knowing every single detail about a particular stock.
Motif allows you to eliminate some of the guesswork if you’re not sure how to go about choosing investments. Each motif includes up to 30 stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which are build around a specific theme. When you’re comparing motifs, you can see at a glance how the asset allocation is weighted, the one-year return and the volatility level associated with each one.
Instead of picking individual stocks, you’re choosing a basket of investments, based on what interests you most and how much risk you’re comfortable taking on. The bottom line? You don’t need to be a stock guru to invest and invest well.
While investing has the potential for big returns, fees can make a substantial dent in your earnings. Over a period of 20 years, an investor who pays 1 percent in annual fees will see their portfolio valued reduced by approximately $30,000, assuming a $100,000 investment.
When you look at it that way, you may wonder why you’d even want to invest at all if so much of your money is going to get eaten up by fees. That’s the wrong attitude to take, however, if one of your goals is building wealth.
Rather than being turned off by fees altogether, the better option is to look for ways to minimize the fees as much as possible. Choosing investments with a low-expense ratio is a start. Opting for a brokerage with low trading fees is another.
Motif, for instance, allows you to trade individual stocks and ETFs for as little as $4.95, or entire motifs for $9.95. If you’re only making trades once or or twice a month, you wouldn’t have to worry about fees taking as big of a bite out of your investments.
Regardless of which excuse you’re using to put off investing for retirement, the fact is that you can’t afford to delay forever. Taking one small step, whether it’s opening a Motif account or finally enrolling in your employer’s retirement plan, can make a huge difference in the kind of retirement future you’re able to build over the long-term. In other words, just do it.
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