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Start Saving During College or Else

We are staying with the college-themed guest posts this week.  The following is a guest post by Jon the Saver, a Christian personal finance blogger and founder of Free Money Wisdom.  He is passionate about helping average Americans reach their financial goals and live a life free of debt.  In his down time he loves a mean game of Scrabble.  Be sure to subscribe to stay connected with Free Money Wisdom!

Here’s the deal everyone, do you want to retire early?  I’m guessing you just answered with a profoundly loud “YES.”  Well why not start in college?  Yes, college is a great time of parties, football games, social gatherings and memory making.  However, your financial life is at stake and you really need to think about saving your money during college for your future.  No, it’s not sexy.  No, it’s not fun.  But do you really want to be working when you are 65, 70, or even 75?  I’ve seen one too many grandpas working at Home Depot, I’m not going to be one of them and I’m sure you don’t want to be either.

So, if you’re a student in college, what can you do?  Before you get too excited, you should start with the small stuff.  Yes you heard me right, the “small stuff.”  This is not a situation where the “go big or go home” motto applies.

Cut back on Extra Spending and Invest in an IRA

C’mon, I know you can cut back somewhere, we all can!  I remember how I was just terrible about spending too much money on eating out and not cooking at home.  Shame on me!  If I was smart, I would have cooked at home and invested the extra savings in a Roth-IRA.  So, what can you do to start saving for your future retirement?  How about those late night drinking binges?  Why not avoid the alcohol and not only improve your personal health but your financial life also!  It’s the small things that matter in college.  It’s not rocket science, just start saving now before it’s too late.

Work at Least one Job

It’s funny because this seems like a no-brainer to me.  Work hard, get paid, and invest a portion of that money toward your retirement savings.  As I’ve gotten older, I guess the vast majority of people don’t follow this simple pearl of wisdom!  Look, do you want to be in debt or broke at graduation?  I’m sure you don’t so save yourself some headaches by getting a job or even two jobs to start investing for your future.  No, it’s not glamorous, heck, you may even miss some football game.  But at the end of the day you will be sitting pretty when it comes to an early retirement.

Start an Emergency Fund

Even though this is not related to retirement savings, an emergency fund could shave off a couple of your gainfully employed years.  Let me explain.  With this flat lined economy, there is a good chance you may not get a job right out of school.  The average college student will take out a credit card and start spending like it was cash and get them into some debt trouble.  If you’re smart, you would have saved money during college for an emergency fund.  Instead of taking on debt you could spend the cash that you have.  Then, after landing your dream job you could start making bank and be back on schedule for your retirement savings.  No interest and no payments to a big bank.

Stop Whining and Start Saving

Do you want to watch American Idol or retire early?  If you really want to watch American idol, well, have fun working in your 70′s…  For the rest of you, start saving now!  I hope this has been some inspiration to get you going with your retirement savings.  If it was the swift kick in the butt that was needed, it was my pleasure.  Remember, retirement savings are up to you and only you.  Don’t rely on Social Security.  You can kiss that good buy because it’s already bankrupt.  You need to rely on Roth-IRA and 401k savings.  Start during college or else.  THE END.

Crystal’s Comments:  I wasn’t able to save anything during college, but I was able to stay debt free, which meant that I was able to save as soon as I made my last school payment.  :-)

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