CHHS Student Success Center

Financial Readiness


Investing: Start as soon as possible! The longer you wait, you will have to spend a lot more overall to reach the same goal. You can calculate how much you will need here. You can expect an average return on investments around 6% (, 2013). Investing doesn't have to be complicated (Get Rich Slowly, 2014). Take it from Warren Buffett, who suggests investing in only two funds (Stock Trader, 2017). Investment Options:

Pension Plan: Employers pay you a guaranteed lifetime income when you retire. Amount of payout depends on various factors. These plans are becoming less common.

401(k), 403(b), and 457 Plans: 401(k) plans (for private organizations), 403(b) plans (for non-profit, tax exempt organizations), and 457 plans (for government agencies and some non-profit organizations) allow you to make tax-free contributions (up to a specified amount) and go untaxed until you retire or take the money out.

  • Some employers match your contributions up to a certain percentage of your salary. If so, take full advantage of employer matching.

Individual Retirement Account (IRA): This is a plan that you set up. You can only contribute $5,500 per year (, 2015). Most brokers/banks/financial institutions can open an account for you. There are two types:

  • Traditional IRA: Contributions are tax deductible; withdraws must begin between age 59.5 and 70.5 (withdrawals before age 59.5 subject to penalty); and taxes are paid on contributions and earnings when withdrawn.
  • Roth IRA: Contributions are not tax deductible; contributions can be withdrawn at any time; earnings can be withdrawn tax free after age 59.5 depending on certain factors (no required withdrawal period).

Withdrawing Funds Early: This will result in a 10% penalty (exception: Roth accounts) in addition to the funds being taxable income. Because of this significant loss, it's rare that people withdraw funds before age 59.5.