By Gail MarksJarvis
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Gail MarksJarvis, a personal finance columnist for the Chicago Tribune and author of “Saving for Retirement Without Living Like a Pauper or Winning the Lottery” shares her tips for money management.
You don’t have to be a genius, a math brain or know anything about the stock market to invest your money well and retire comfortably.
Most people don’t think of themselves as investors. But just about anyone with a fourth-grade education can get key money decisions right, like feeding a 401(k) or IRA regularly, and retire with a stash that’s large enough to last until you’re in your 90s. But you have to be deliberate.
So today, as I write the final installment of this advice column before moving to another writing venture, I want to leave you with some crucial basics. Get these right, and a lot of money matters fall into place.
STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT COLLEGE
We’ve all heard about recent graduates so buried in student loans they don’t feel like they can have children, buy homes, or leave a good-paying job for the job they really want.
But most people struggling with college debt didn’t finish college or got a degree that wouldn’t lead to a career lucrative enough to cover their student loans.
So be deliberate about college decisions. When you are 18, it’s impossible to see your future precisely, but if you are drawn to art, social work, early childhood education and other jobs paying maybe $25,000 a year, you don’t want $40,000 in loans. Follow this rule of thumb: Don’t have total college loans that exceed your annual gross income.
This means researching your likely career and its expected pay.
If college isn’t for you, consider an associate degree in a technical field that pays well. About 28 percent of people with two-year educations earn more than the average bachelor’s degree graduate, according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.