3 Expert-Approved Tips To Use For Retirement Planning


I don't know about you but I was real clueless when I got into the workforce and was asked if I wanted to contribute to a 401K.

Before making a decision, I had a little conversation with myself in my head that went a little something like this:

"What the heck is a 401K?"

"That sounds real shady."

"It's gonna be coming out of my paycheck? Nah, I need ALL of my hard earned coins!"

"Well I guess I should sign up for it because they say they're gonna match me. What's the worst that can possibly happen here?"

I know I'm not the only one who has had a similar convo with themselves. I wasn't even thinking about no retirement, I was fresh out of school and simply trying to gain some real life experience and look fly while doing so. I was focused on what was going on in my world that day, that week, that month.

Nah, 30 to 40 years down the line didn't exist to me.

I ultimately ended up putting a good chunk of money into my 401K while at my first job, but when hard times hit a few years later, I was up against a wall and had no choice but to pull all of my money out. There I was with no savings, just like that. I didn't know any better though. Fast forward a few years, I started learning more and more about retirement planning and the different types of Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and having real life conversations with my peers about it.

Shamese CampbellThe General Ledger Group

When I heard Shamese Campbell of The General Ledger Group tell her story, it struck a chord in me. Imagine making millions and millions of dollars as a boss babe business owner, traveling all around the world, and living the high life for years and years, but now being in retirement age with absolutely nothing to show for it.

This is Campbell's 82-year-old grandmother's reality. When business was booming, she was so focused on the "here and now" that she didn't think to plan for retirement. "We don't think about these things when we're young," Campbell said.

In the age of boss babes and Girl CEOs everywhere, it's especially important to ensure that the money you're bringing in while hustling has an assignment. "Everyone's always so focused on securing the bag that they're not even thinking about managing it and putting it aside for the future," she continued.

When you work for yourself, you have to make sure that you don't lose sight of retirement planning. Just because you may not have access to an employer sponsored 401K plan, doesn't mean that you can't contribute. You can take advantage of an IRA and set it up to where you're contributing the maximum amount each year ($5,500) so that you can earn more on your investment. This will allow you to ensure that you're gonna actually be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor over the years once you're ready to throw in the towel.

There's two common types of IRAs: Traditional and Roth. The difference between the two is that with a Traditional IRA, you're getting a slight tax break because you're putting pre-tax dollars into it. When it's time to withdraw, you'll get taxed on it. With a Roth IRA, it allows you to invest with after-tax dollars so that when it's time to pull from it, it's completely tax free. The unfortunate truth is this though: retirement seems so far away for so many millennials and, as a result, they are either not saving at all for it or not saving enough.

The General Ledger Group

It's a foreign concept for those who were never educated on the importance of retirement planning.

The whole point of retiring is so that you won't have to work anymore. Campbell says that, "If you have to get a job after retirement, then you've done something wrong along the way."

That's why we see so many older people working jobs these days. Not because they necessarily want to, but because they have to in order to survive. Think about it: do you want to be standing in front of a Wal-Mart greeting people when you're 70 years old? If your answer is "no," then it's time to really shift your mindset and start thinking about and planning for your FUTURE SELF.

Wherever you are in your workforce journey, it's never too late to start pouring into your future. Here's a few ways that you can ensure a happy and thriving retirement for yourself.

Make it a priority.

It's sad to see how we work every single day for so many years and end up broke, busted, and disgusted at the end of it all. That's because we're so conditioned to go to work in order to pay bills. Campbell says that you should be making it a priority to pay yourself first before doing anything else. Regardless of how much you're putting in, it's imperative to be contributing something. Start small if necessary and increase your contributions over time. You also gotta make sure that you're disciplined enough to not pull from it like I did when things got a bit rough.

Know where you are to know where you're going.

A lot of times, people don't know how much it truly costs to live the life that they live or even how to calculate their financial independence number. You have to have an idea of how much money you even need in order to retire comfortably and maintain your standard of living or better. Additionally, you have to take into account inflation over the years. Ask yourself this: With how much you're contributing currently, is your future self gonna be good or nah?

Sit down with someone.

Regardless of whether you're an entrepreneur or work a traditional 9-5, you should be sitting down with a professional to discuss your options and create a plan that will allow you to live the life you desire after retirement. You should also meet with them multiple times over the years to make changes to your contributions as needed. You do not need to figure it all out on your own, that's why there are qualified people who are willing and ready to help you get the most bang for your buck.

Campbell says that you should be planning for the future so that the future can take care of you. If you're not looking out for you, then who will? Make yourself a priority and do what's necessary TODAY so that you can live your best life TOMORROW.

Featured image courtesy of The General Ledger Group

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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