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Be Smart and Invest in Your Retirement: Guest Blogger

Until we met LearnVest, our idea of being financially responsible was shopping at sample sales. But the online personal finance and lifestyle resource has changed the way we think about money—for the better. It’s filled with tools and support to help women gain control over their finances (for a taste, just check out their free Financial Bootcamp series). This January, as we focus on ways to make this our best year ever, we’re tapping the LearnVest experts to give you their best advice! It’ll be fun and educational, we promise. 

In your mind’s eye, picture all your friends, family, classmates and colleagues.

About half of them are doing something very smart, and the other half…well, they’re doing the opposite.

And that very smart thing is investing.

Before you protest that investing is only for people with loads of spare cash, we’d like to inform you that everyone who draws a paycheck should be investing.

Unfortunately, according to a nationwide survey conducted last year by LearnVest and Chase Blueprint, only 48% of women and 56% of men have a 401(k) retirement account, and the percent of people who have their own individual retirement account (IRA) is even lower: 40% for women and 48% for men. And these stats are just for retirement investing alone—even fewer people are doing any non-retirement investing.

We’re going to show why everyone who makes money should be investing, no matter how much money they make, and explain how you should be investing and when.

Retirement: The Investing Must

Everyone who works has to save for retirement. (There are a few exceptions to this rule, but most of them apply in temporary situations, i.e. you are unemployed and living on savings.)

And if you’re saving for retirement, then you have to be investing for two reasons:

1. It would be impossible to save every single dollar you need to live on in retirement yourself. Unless you make so much money that your month-to-month expenses are only a small fraction of what you make, then you likely don’t make enough to amass enough retirement savings dollar by dollar. That’s why you invest: You invest some money and by the time you sell that investment (in an ideal world), you hope to have more than what you put in.

2. The other reason you need to be investing for retirement is that even if you did save every dollar you needed, by the time you got to retirement, the value of money would have fallen and you’ll need more dollars in order to maintain the same standard of living you’d enjoyed previously. The reason for that? Inflation, which raises prices by, on average, 2 percent or 3 precent annually. That’s why a gallon of milk might have cost $0.35 when your grandmother was a child and why it now costs $3.50.

Scary, huh? The good news is that investing usually grows your money more than inflation shrinks it. During the 20th century, the historical average rate of return was more than 10% per year. (Take that, 3% inflation!)

So, bottom line: If you plan to retire someday, then investing is the key to making that happen for you.

Special Offer for BB Readers: Get exclusive access to a free 15-minute financial checkup with a LearnVest Planning financial expert, plus a 20% discount on any Planning Package by visiting learnvest.com/birchbox and using the code BIRCHBOX20 at checkout.

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