How Much Should I Invest Per Paycheck?

How much of my income should I be investing is one of the most frequent questions people have when beginning their long-term planning.

If this sounds similar, congrats on being proactive. When you invest, you not only increase your wealth but also protect a nest egg for your retirement. The important thing is to consistently contribute more than your first investment so that you have more money to grow over time, even if you don’t need much to start investing these days.

How much of your money, though, should you devote to investing? Experts say that 15% of your pretax income appears to be the sweet spot.

The 50/15/5 rule is a formula used by Matt Rogers, a CFP and director of financial planning at eMoney Advisor, to determine how much money should be invested continually.

The guideline states that you should set aside 50% of your take-home pay for necessities (housing, food, health care, transportation, child care, and debt repayment), 15% of your pretax income (including employer contributions), and 5% of your take-home pay for short-term savings (like an emergency fund). The remaining 30% of your income can be used for extra savings or discretionary costs like entertainment and dining out.

The 15 percent rule makes the assumption that investors begin their careers early. Making sure you are contributing enough to satisfy any 401(k) employer match if your firm offers one, is an excellent place to start if you want to reach the 15% mark.

If young workers have trouble hitting the 15 percent target right away, Rogers advises Select, “it’s crucial for them to save as much as they can and raise contributions by one or two points as they gain more income.” Look into the possibility of your company increasing your contribution automatically each year.

Using Fidelity’s online savings and spending tool, people may examine how their expenditure compares to the 50/15/5 standards.

Not able to access a 401(k)?

Take into account a tax-advantaged IRA that enables you to independently save for retirement. When you invest in a typical IRA, taxes are not due until you withdraw money from the account in retirement. With a Roth IRA, you pay taxes upfront by making after-tax contributions, and your withdrawals from it once you reach retirement are tax-free (as long as your account has been open for at least five years).

Traditional IRAs are better suitable for people who anticipate having less income (and a lower tax rate) in retirement. In contrast, Roth IRAs are better suited for people who anticipate having more income (and a higher tax rate) in retirement.

Charles Schwab, Fidelity, and Betterment all provide some of the greatest IRAs and Roth IRAs. Each of them offers a range of investment options and has tools or educational materials to assist you in making investments for the future.

Start by keeping the end in mind.

Although 15% seems to be the industry standard for investment amounts, the truth is that it truly depends on your end aim.

Alex Klingelhoeffer, a CFP and wealth advisor with Exencial Wealth Advisors, asks, “How large are your dreams?” “It’s usually always useful to begin with the end in mind when you’re working on a project, and investing is a long, long project,” said Benjamin Graham.

  • Consider your priorities and the returns you hope to receive from investments. 
  • Consider the retirement lifestyle you desire.
  • Do you want to downsize or purchase a new home?

According to Klingelhoeffer, who advises a 10 percent to 20 percent saving and investing rate, “I have clients that have a basic concept of when they might like to buy a retirement house” (including any employer match). Others I know appear to have budgeted every dollar for the ensuing 20 years. Everyone works in a different way, but starting with the end in mind might help you choose how much effort you should devote to a task right now.

Consider a platform that might assist you in visualizing your objectives as you consider your investment objectives. Users of Robo-advisor investment platforms, such as Betterment and Wealthfront, can, for instance, get customized savings plans based on their stated investment time horizon, risk tolerance, and expected return of their suggested investment portfolio.

To Sum Up

The first stage in investing is to decide what your long-term objectives are. Next, make sure you’re saving 15% of your pretax income each pay period; this is a solid rule of thumb to adhere to and will keep you on schedule for retirement.

Investing is a marathon, not a sprint, so keep that in mind. If you are currently unable to afford the 15 percent minimum, consider increasing your annual investment commitment until you can.

If you are interested in more articles like this, here’s one about how online savings account work.

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