Older Americans who haven’t saved enough for retirement could learn a lesson or two from these young retirement savers — they’ve already socked thousands of dollars away for their golden years.
Courtesy: Fabian Fernandez-Han
Age started saving: 10
Amount saved: $10,000
Hometown: Houston, TX
One day I saw my dad trading on eTrade. It looked interesting so I wanted to do it. I had always saved my allowance money and birthday money, and the first thing I bought was Apple stock — when shares were only $100.
I now have an eTrade account and a Scottrade account. In addition to Apple, I’ve also invested in other stocks like Google, Microsoft and Rim. I have some money in a savings account, too. But most of the money I plan to use for retirement is invested in stocks.
This January, the New York Stock Exchange was sponsoring a competition where the challenge was to create something to teach other kids how to save and invest. I decided to make an iPhone app called Oink-a-Saurus targeted at kids and teens who want to learn ways to save money, and I ended up winning first place.
I want to help other kids learn to save and invest more responsibly. The current generation cannot rely on Social Security, so we have to save for our own retirement and can’t depend on that.
When I was 7 years old, all the kids would get trophies whether they won or lost and I thought they were worthless. I asked my mom, who would actually pay for the trophies and how much they cost. When she said they were $10 apiece and parents paid for their child’s trophy, I asked if I could keep the $10 to save in a bank account instead of receiving the trophy.
I’m not planning on spending most of the money I have invested for a very, very long time. I’m not that scared about investing most of it in stocks, because when you’re a kid it’s not that big of a deal if you lose a little money — you still have time to get it back.
Age started saving: 13
Amount saved: $1,000
Hometown: Jerusalem, Israel
I started saving for retirement when I was 13 years old, as soon as I started working. I started my own website, 2learnhebrew.com, where I tutor people one-on-one who want to learn Hebrew and charge $12 an hour.
I’ve saved a lot of the money I’ve made, and I’ve also spent some on some nice little expensive gifts for myself, like a nice camera and a fancy pen.
Overall, I’ve put away about $1,000 for retirement into a bank account where I only get a little interest — but I’m nervous about the stock market. I’ve probably spent about $800 to $900. And my family gives 20% of everything they earn to charity, so I do that with my money, too.
I’m only in 10th grade, so I haven’t yet thought about what I will do when I retire. I don’t watch TV now, so I won’t then either. But I think having money saved up when I’m older will help me continue doing good things and helping other people.
Age started saving: 16
Amount saved: $3,000
Hometown: Great Falls, VA
I’m only $3,000 in so far, but 20 more years of doing this and it will be pretty substantial. When I’m sitting on something like that, I can maybe step out of the workforce at a younger age or I can do something that I love that wouldn’t otherwise give me sufficient income.
I’m a senior in high school and I got a job a year and a half ago at a restaurant. During the summer, I work four days a week. And during the school year, I work two to three nights a week.
My parents and I opened a bank account, and I started putting all my paychecks and half my tips away. The other half of my tips I’ll spend on things like gas and food. The tips are harder to put away because they’re cash, right there in front of me. But the rest of it goes in the bank account and I think of it as untouchable.
It all started from my mom. Even before I started working, she would give me a cut below my birthday money and put the rest away in my account. It would come out in bits and pieces throughout the year when I needed it, but a lot of that birthday money was saved away. So when work started it was a no-brainer to do the same. It’s pretty nice to think I could have it 60 years from now.
Age started saving: 11
Amount saved: $300,000
Hometown: Princeton, N.J.
When I retire, I want to have enough money to live comfortably.
There are a lot of other things to save for [right now] since I’m only in my first year of college, so I try to put away the most that I can. I don’t have a constant amount that I contribute, but when I’m working I’ll try to put in at least $50 a month to my savings account. At this point, I’d say I have a little over $300,000 saved up. My parents encourage me, and sometimes they’ll match the amount.
I got my first paycheck when I was 11 and right away I wanted to put it in a bank account. I started out working as a mother’s helper, and then as a babysitter. Then I did lots of retail work and worked for DoughMain, where I really learned about saving and financial education.
I’m in college now, and trying to get a job, so I’m only doing a little at a time. There are always people who will say people like me who save this early are crazy. But just think: for the next 35 years that money is only going to keep growing.
Most people my age don’t think about saving for retirement, and I see peers and adults alike buying so much more than they can afford. People should really start taking saving more seriously.
*In addition to saving the money she earns or is given as a gift, Grace does side jobs, like tutoring, and sells textbooks and clothing so that she is able to put even more money into her savings.
Age started saving: 11
Amount saved: $26,000
Hometown: Potomac, Md.
When I was 11, I started putting my gift money from birthdays and holidays into a savings account at Chevy Chase, before it was Capital One. It was exciting to see my money grow. Ever since then, I have been putting money into three different savings accounts, and my parents opened an IRA for me a few years ago.
At first, I would contribute the money I saved in coin jars, or from doing chores and things like that. Then I started babysitting at 12 or 13 years old, I was a lifeguard for a while and then worked at a hotel, so I just kept saving money.
My mom always tells me I’ve saved triple what she and my dad had when they got married. She has raised me and my brother to know that we don’t want to be struggling later and that we should save now.
I want to retire comfortably at the time I want to retire at, and I want to live on my own without relying on other people to take care of me. I don’t know what the right target amount is to have forretirement, but I’m thinking my number might be $1 million.
[See also: Twenty-Nine and Already Worried About My Retirement]
Age started saving: 18
Amount saved: $25,000
Hometown: Costa Mesa, Calif.
My mom helped start me off with an initial $1,000 that I put into a Certificate of Deposit at Disneyland’s credit union.
My other retirement investments are riskier compared to the CD and include vehicles, such as stocks through my IRA, mutual funds through my 401k.
Being in a business-oriented fraternity in college provided me with a network of stock-savvy friends who helped me research and analyze stocks to invest in. Since I graduated college this past summer, I enrolled in my company’s 401(k) as they matched 5% of my contributions.
Through my CDs, IRA and 401(k), I’m saving and investing about $6,000 annually for retirement. This amount doesn’t include the interest, dividends or equity that I am earning.
However, the biggest thing that I am investing in for my retirement is real estate. I became a licensed real estate agent as a freshman in college and recently purchased my first home at the age of 23. This will be the first of many real estate properties that I am planning to invest in for income and retirement purposes. I’d like to buy condominiums in different areas and manage them during retirement.
It’s one thing to work when you are in retirement age for enjoyment, but I don’t plan on working during retirement age to make end’s meet. I also want to make sure that my parents can retire comfortably.