You’re probably wondering why I popped a cork on a bottle of champagne this week. Well, I hit a major milestone, or at least to me, it’s a major milestone. My journey began 23 ½ years ago when I was offered a job in Information Technology at Fidelity Investments. The next thing I knew, I was moving from Plymouth, MN to Irving, TX in December 1993.

Prior to working at Fidelity, I had saved very little for retirement. But, Fidelity really encourages their employees to save; plus, they have an exceptional 401(k) match and profit sharing program. Consequently, I quickly became very good at saving for retirement, and for the next 22 ½ years, I maxed out the amount I could contribute to my 401(k).

Because of my commitment to saving, I was able to retire early from Fidelity. So, last July (2016), my co-workers said good bye with a fabulous celebration, and I began the next chapter in my life (I hate to sound so cliché, but that’s exactly what I did).

At first, I cleaned my house from top to bottom including the attic and garage. After getting my house in order, I started working on my website. Apparently, I wasn’t ready to abandon the world of computer technology. Then, in May of this year, I began posting to my blog, Backporchbanter.com. I may have retired from Fidelity, but I didn’t retire from working. Now, I work on my blog throughout the week, taking pictures and writing. I love what I’m doing even though I don’t get paid for it. And, I can thank Fidelity Investments for providing the means to accomplish my goals.

A while back, I rolled my 401(k) balance into a Rollover IRA, and for the past year, I lived off of other savings. But this week, I took my first withdrawal from my IRA and opened a bottle of bubbly to celebrate. After saving for retirement for 22 ½ years, I’m now spending the money I worked so hard to earn.

But, I’d also like to offer a little bit of advice. I can’t advise you as to what to invest your savings in, but I can advise you to save.

  • If you are working and your company offers a 401(k), at the very least, contribute an amount to your 401(k) that equals the amount your employer will match. For example, if your employer matches up to 4%, you must contribute at least 4% of your earnings to your 401(k). That 4% employer match is free money you don’t want to miss out on. If you’re in a position to contribute more, contribute as much as you can.
  • Depending on your current and future financial situation or expectations, you may want to save into your 401(k) and into a post-tax account meaning one where you’ve already paid taxes on your earnings such as a Roth 401(k) or a regular savings account.
  • If you change jobs, roll the balance of your 401(k) into an IRA. Do NOT cash it out. Not only will you have to pay taxes on it, but you’ll also have to pay a 10% penalty.
  • In addition to contributing to your 401(k), if your employer’s health plan is a high deductible health plan and they offer a Health Savings Account option, consider contributing to it. HSAs are a good way to save for future medical expenses and have several tax benefits.
  • If your employer does not offer a 401(k) or you’re self-employed, look into other methods of saving that provide tax advantages. Fidelity offers a wide range of retirement products including a Traditional IRA, ROTH IRA, SEP IRA, Self-Employed 401(k), or SIMPLE IRA.

Check out Fidelity Investments for more information about all of the financial services they offer. Please note that I am NOT being paid to endorse Fidelity Investments. I’m simply a happy retiree that appreciates the benefits they provide.

I hope I’ve given you something to think about in regards to saving for retirement. Hopefully, you’re well on your way or happily there. Let me know when you hit one of your major milestones, and I’ll stop over with a bottle of champagne so we can celebrate together. Cheers!