Older man looking at stacks of books, image for Manisha Dorawala blog about how to prepare for retirement

No matter how old you are, it’s never too early to begin planning for retirement. The earlier you start, the better shape you’ll be in when it comes time to leave the workforce. You may adore your job and never want to leave, but eventually it’s going to be time to stop working and retire. When you’re young, retirement is decades away and seems like something you can worry about in the future. However, it’s important to begin thinking about this important decision now and taking steps to give future you a great retirement.

Open a Roth IRA

If you’re young, one of the first steps you should take for retirement is opening a Roth IRA. There are other types of retirement accounts, but for most people in their 20s (and sometimes 30s), a Roth IRA is the best option. Do your own research to decide what type of account is best for you, but open your account as soon as possible and begin saving. Even if you aren’t working full-time, putting away a little money at a time goes a long way.

Utilize work options

If you have career and are working full-time, it’s likely your company offers the chance to put money into a retirement account, such as a 401(k). Take advantage of this offer. It can be tempting to simply take as much money in your paycheck as possible, but even setting aside a small amount from your paycheck is a good idea, especially if your company offers to match what you contribute to the account. It’s free money that you’ll benefit from later in life.

Set up automatic deposits

You might tell yourself you’ll contribute a certain amount of money to your retirement fund each month, but it can be difficult to remember and you may be tempted to skip a month in order to put that money toward something else you want to purchase. If it’s possible, cut back on spending in other areas in order to contribute as much as possible to your retirement funds. Set up automatic deposits so you don’t have to remember to transfer the money; if you take it off of your paycheck before you get paid, you won’t notice it’s gone.

Understand the process

One of the big reasons people don’t start saving for retirement at a young age is because they do not clearly understand the importance of saving or the process of it. Educate yourself and save for your future. If the idea of investments confuses you, find a company that does most of the work for you, has low fees, and understand the basics of investing your retirement funds.

Don’t cash out

As tempting as it may be to pull money out of a retirement fund because you think you really need it, avoid doing this as much as possible. You’re only hurting yourself in the future by pulling money out and usually you’ll have to pay a fee or some other kind of penalty if you withdraw money from your account before you’re supposed to. Instead, build up a solid emergency fund so you don’t have to fall back onto your retirement savings.