Having a student loan payment each month as a college graduate leaves little room in the budget to contribute to a retirement savings account.
College grads without student loans are much more likely to save for retirement. By the time they reach age 30, grads without student loans are predicted to have double the amount saved for retirement as individuals with student loans, according to a study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.
What can those with student loan debt do to fix this?
Pay Your Student Loans First
If you can’t afford to save for retirement and pay your student loans at the same time, then start by working to wipe out your debt first. It’s a debt cycle that will continue if you don’t tackle it.
Most federal loan borrowers are allowed up to 10 years to repay their student loans, and those with more than $30,000 in federal student loans can have up to 25 years to repay, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This long window could be incentive enough to stretch out payments.
Try to find money to put toward retirement. The earlier you save, the more money you’ll have at retirement. A general rule is that for every 10 years you delay saving for retirement, the amount you need to save per month roughly doubles.
Someone in their 20s may need to save just 5 percent of their income to have a good retirement fund. But wait until your 30s and it is closer to 10 percent.
Use the Right Tools
A workplace 401(k) or traditional individual retirement account will typically make your contributions tax-deductible. This allows you to save money now on your taxes.
If your employer matches your contributions, it’s like giving yourself a raise that you’ll enjoy when retired. If you don’t contribute, you won’t get those matching funds.
Change Your Budget
If contributing to a retirement fund now isn’t in your budget, make room for it. Cut expenses such as excessive dinner outings, and you should find enough money to get your retirement savings going.