Financial planner shares millennial clients’ retirement mistakes

Millennials have many years to go before they retire, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be saving.

And when it comes to saving, you have to do it the right way. But many millennials make mistakes when it comes to saving for retirement, according to financial planner Mamie Wheaton of LearnLux.

Wheaton told Insider there are four mistakes she sees her millennial clients make time and time again

1. They put paying back student loans above saving for retirement when they should be equal priorities

While many millennials want to pay off their student loans, that can’t be their only priority. Wheaton said saving for retirement needs to be weighed as well.

While many people think it’s a good idea to finish paying off student loans first, it really isn’t, Wheaton explained. While waiting to save, you are running out of time for the money to grow in the market with

compound interest
. It could put you behind on your retirement savings and mean saving smaller later to live on.

“My favorite phrase is, ‘You can’t take out a retirement loan,'” said Wheaton.

Paying off student loans and saving for retirement at the same time is the smartest option. That way, you can take advantage of compound interest on your retirement savings while paying off your loans.

2. They prioritize their children’s education over retirement savings

Just like paying your own loans at the expense of your retirement savings, saving for a child’s future education before saving for retirement is another mistake millennials make too often.

“A lot of these millennials may have been short on student loans themselves, so they don’t want that for their kids,” Wheaton said. “So they make saving for their children’s education a priority, which is wonderful, but they’re doing it at the expense of their own retirement.”

Starting to save for a child’s retirement and education at the same time is the right decision and can help ensure that both goals are met. However, if there isn’t enough money for both, prioritize your own retirement.

3. They forget their old 401 (k) accounts when they change jobs

When you quit a job, you should be thinking about your 401 (k).

“You want to make sure you keep track of it and always know where the old retirement money is,” she said. “You’re going to want to check your retirement plans on an annual basis to make sure you’re in the right mix.”

You’ll also want to make sure your money is invested appropriately and in a way that matches your risk tolerance and the number of years you have left before you retire, said Wheaton.

To make the process easier, you can transfer money from old 401 (k) accounts to a more easily accessible IRA or a new 401 (k).

4. They sell their investments when the market collapses

Wheaton said one of the big mistakes she sees millennials make is a big mistake: selling investments whenever the market goes down.

It’s just not the best long-term decision for your money. “Market downturns can actually be a good time for contributions to get into your 401 (k) because [you’re] buy these funds cheaply and at a lower price. So when the market does go up, you have more growth opportunities, ”she said.

His advice to millennials is to keep holding on to what you have: the longer you hold your investments, the more ups and downs in the market won’t matter.

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