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Coffee or Retirement - Which Benefits You More?

Chances are you have never stumbled across anyone that boasts about the fact that it only took them five years to plan for retirement. Or, that they have so much money that they are going to retire at forty.

The reality is, planning for retirement takes dedication to earn the desired results. You have a greater chance of living to 65 than you want to believe. Retirement is going to happen whether you are ready or not! So, set a goal and stick to it, because no one wants to hear all the reasons why you did not save for retirement.

Can you imagine yourself retired? What does that look like? Now ask yourself, what do you have to do to make this a reality?

An IRA is a great way to start or supplement a retirement plan. For the context of this conversation, we will explore a scenario with a forty-year-old who is working for a company that does not offer a 401(k) plan as an option. In this case, an IRA is the next best alternative to start on a path for retirement.

At forty, you can contribute a maximum of $7,000 a year to your IRA (as of 2024). That is approximately $19.00 a day or the equivalent of two coffee breaks at your favorite boutique coffee shop. In all seriousness, $19.00 a day can make a big difference now as you plan for what is to come.

Let’s look at what this would look like over time. If a forty-year-old started contributing to an IRA at the maximum IRS allowable amount from age 40 to 50 ($7,000 per year) and from age 51 to 65 ($8,000 per year; increased for catch-up contributions), while yielding a return of 5% compounding over the 25-year period, a nest egg of over $270,000 will be created. Not bad for giving up coffee.

Keep in mind, this example is less than a market average return. If your IRA was invested in ten percent yielding investments, the end result would be over $390,000. Is that worth giving up your coffee habit?

If you are still not on board yet, then maybe this will help. Every time you buy a coffee you are paying taxes, which is how your coffee tab crept up to $19.00 for two coffees. What if you did not have to pay tax on the $390,000 you accumulated in your IRA?

Do I have your attention now?

If you establish a Roth IRA and you wait until age 59 ½ before taking a distribution, you will receive your distribution tax-free. I’m not making this up. In fact, you can thank our government officials for this gift.

Now let me put the whip cream on top of your artisan coffee. The goal with retirement is not to spend the capital, but to live off the dividends or interest of the accumulated capital. At this phase, assuming that you were able to accumulate $390,000 over 25 years, every year at a 10% yielding investment you would have $39,000 in tax-free income.

So, put down the coffee and pay attention to your retirement plan.