Retirement: Tips for your 20s

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SALT LAKE CITY — Taylor Hawkins is 26 years old and his wife, Ashley, is 24.

Seven and a half months ago they had twin boys, Oliver and Max. Looking into the future for the Hawkins isn't easy.

"Even a year ago I wouldn't have ever thought we'd be parents of twins," Taylor said.

Thinking ahead to retirement seems unimaginable right now.

"I have no idea what life will look like when we're 60," he said, "other than hopefully we'll be able to fly by then."

The Hawkins aren't unlike many twenty-somethings.

Alex Mojica, a senior wealth planning strategist for Zions Bank, said people often tend to put off things that are uncomfortable for us.

He said twenty-somethings don't really focus on retirement as much as they should.

Taylor and Ashley have some ideas about what retirement will be like, but they have questions too.

"There's like a CD, an IRA, a money market, a 401K," Hawkins said. "All these different things that people talk about but I don't really know what those are."

They worry about having enough money to live in their golden years.

"For a long time I never really thought about retirement because I needed a job to retire from," Hawkins said.

Now Taylor works full-time at Utah Woolen Mill.

"That for me was like the first time, oh yeah. I actually have a big kid job now," he said.

When it comes to preparing for retirement, Mojica said there are four things twenty-somethings should be doing.

Step 1: Have a long-term perspective

"This group has a longer time frame to invest their money in retirement accounts," Mojica said.

Which means, your money has more time to compound.

"A little bit of investment early on can make a huge difference on what your retirement will look like in the future," he said.

Step 2: Set it and forget it

Opening a 401K or an IRA account is an easy process, Mojica said.

"You can do payroll deduction and direct deposits to get the money in there seamlessly," he said. Once it's in, don't touch it.

Step 3: Use the match

"If you gave me a dollar and I gave you $2 in return, would that be good for you? That's a pretty good deal right?" Mojica said.

Many employers offer matching contributions to employees' 401K accounts, he said.

"It's free money. If you're not taking advantage of it, you're basically giving away free money."

Step 4: Consider a Roth IRA

"Traditional IRA or traditional 401K, the money goes into it pre-taxed," Mojica said.

But a Roth account is different.

"The money has already been taxed before it goes into the Roth IRA or Roth 401K," he said.

And for many 20-year-olds, taxes will be relatively low. The money grows in their account tax-free.

"The bigger benefit is when you take the money out in retirement, the money comes out tax-free as well," Mojica said.

Withdrawals are easier with a Roth account too. For example, if a 25-year-old contributes $10,000 into their Roth account, they can take that $10,000 contribution out without penalties.

"So it gives that twenty-something a little bit more flexibility if they're worried about locking up their money into a retirement plan." Email:


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