As of November 4th, I have been employed as a laboratory technician by a local university for 2 years!
I received a letter from HR informing me that the university will now contribute a percentage of my base salary to my retirement account. Excited, I promptly opened an account with TIAA-CREF and I began the process of enrolling in my employer-sponsored retirement plan. I felt optimistic as I read the terms of the employer contributions; however, I was overcome by anxiety soon after as I was inundated with options for my contributions...
How much do I want to contribute to my plan? By dollar amount per paycheck? By percentage per paycheck? The maximum annual contribution is a significant proportion of my salary, so that is not an option... What is pre-tax? What is Roth?
I tried to focus my thoughts by doing what I do best: research. I searched for the definitions of the terms. I read numerous articles by various types of professionals, including accountants and economists, as well as anecdotes and blogs by everyday people.
And I was still overwhelmed and unsure of myself and my understanding of it all. So I decided to venture outside of the safety and security of my laboratory bubble and meet with a representative at TIAA-CREF. Though I was quite anxious waiting for my appointment, it turned out to be a very positive and encouraging experience. The representative took the time to describe the options in terms that I could comprehend, and he helped tailor my retirement plan to my needs. I left my appointment with a solid understanding of my options and my retirement goals, and I confidently set up my contributions that evening!
Preparing for retirement is, admittedly, still a bit daunting, but I took the steps necessary to secure my future despite my confusion and my fears. And I now have the knowledge, the resources, and the confidence to work towards my retirement goals as I continue to advance my career!