Most students are focused on grades, partying, and Facebook; their minds are far from AARP, Medicaid, and dentures.
Retirement is nowhere near the forefront of their minds, but grabbing the reins today and taking control of their financial future can prove to be a very smart decision in the long run, according to financial expert Skip Bower.
"In fact, the unfortunate part about retirement planning is that many people don't get into it until their '50s, sometimes their late '50s, when it is really too late to build up any substantial savings fund," said Bower, a 40-year Wall Street veteran and retired financial advisor for UBS financial services. "My recommendation to all my clients has always been from the day that you start work, you maximize the amount of money that you contribute [to your retirement fund]."
Bower, who now owns his own private financial advisement firm, has carved out a niche as an expert in equity investing and financial planning for individuals and their estates. Bower said retirement can be a daunting dose of reality for someone of any age. It can be difficult to plan as a function of our fears of getting old.
"I've thought about [retirement], and my dad keeps reminding me about it because he thinks it's important," said Daniel Kestenbaum, a senior business major. "Unfortunately right now, more money is going out than is coming in."
Kestenbaum is not the only student at UB who isn't focused on his retirement plan. Maxwell Weberman, a senior English major, said he isn't worried about what he will do 50 years down the road.
Students around campus have similar issues; they are not making enough money to balance paying for food, partying, school costs, and other needs and wants. Some students work while in school – making minimum wage working jobs on or off campus – but this doesn't seem to cover the cost of being a college student.
"I do [have a budget]," said Adam Poskanzer, a senior biology major. "I use mint.com. It's a website that tracks all of your purchases via electronic tender."
Mint.com is a free and secure website that allows users to set up any budget they would like and helps them keep it. Members like Poskanzer can track all spending and find where they can save money.
In turn, that money can then be saved or used to open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). This allows a person to deposit up to $5,000 per year into an account before paying taxes. Upon retirement, that money can be withdrawn and taxed as regular income.
On the contrary, one could use a Roth IRA and deposit up to $5,000 per year using his or her post-tax income, or income after they have paid their taxes. Upon reaching the age of 59.5, that money then becomes available to them tax and penalty free, according to irs.gov.
"The Roth IRA probably in the long run is going to be a better bet," Bower said. "When you are young, you're not making a whole lot of money, so you're not in a very high tax bracket. The benefit of the regular tax deductible IRA is not going to be very significant."
Those who have part-time jobs can take the money from their already-taxed paycheck and deposit a small percentage of it into a Roth IRA through a broker of their choice, like the popular online brokerage etrade.com.
"It's very important to start [saving] as early as you possibly can," Bower said. "I always maximized my retirement contributions, and I'm enjoying the fruits of that now."