Retirement planning seems to be the most pervasive and consistent financial advice you get from your boss, co-workers, friends, and family. It's financially sound advice based on the tax savings, tax protected investing, and, if you're lucky, a company match. However, fixating too much on long-term planning may subject you to financial struggles in the short term.
As a financial planner and founder of Financial Gym, I feel personally responsible for helping my clients not only identify their life goals, but also making sure they have the most effective plan for achieving those goals. And often times, I think the traditional school of thought around retirement planning doesn’t consider a person’s whole financial picture. Yes, saving for retirement is a must, but so is planning for your other life goals — whether that’s paying off your student loans or traveling the world, or both.
I want to be clear that retirement savings is an important part of your overall financial plan, and if you earn enough money to save for your short- and long-term goals at the same time — then you should. However, if you have to prioritize your savings goals, then it makes sense to focus on your more immediate goals first and catch up on retirement when you can. I’ve seen too many clients prioritize their 401(k) contributions only to be stressed out from lack of cash or high interest rate credit card balances that won’t go away. Before you commit to your retirement accounts, review your progress to your other money goals first, and cut out the unnecessary financial stress along the way.