Maxeme Tuchman is a strategic policy advisor with the U.S. Department of the Treasury. She’s a Miami native who used to be the executive director of Teach For America Miami-Dade.
As someone who loves Miami and calls it home, I never thought I’d enjoy living in Washington. My commute is long, I’m far from family, and the city has already logged more than two feet of snow this winter.
But the truth is I can’t imagine being anywhere else, because I have the opportunity to work on a project I really believe in. It’s called myRA, or my Retirement Account, and it’s a new retirement savings option from the U.S. Department of the Treasury that makes it easy for people to start saving for the future.
Most people want to save, but too many aren’t saving or aren’t saving enough – 31 percent of non-retired people report that they have no retirement savings or pension. Many barriers get in the way: high fees, complicated investment options, and lack of access to retirement savings plans at work are among the most common.
As Matt Haggman of the Knight Foundation likes to proudly point out, Miami is one of the most entrepreneurial cities in the country. But small businesses and startups are often the least likely to be able to offer retirement plans to employees.
For millennials – a cohort I am still a part of (just on the older end!) – it’s important that we start saving now rather than later because money we save today can work harder for us for longer. Unfortunately, many of us haven’t found an easy or affordable way to get started.
The statistics are troubling. A new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts found that more than 30 million full-time employees in the United States lack access to workplace retirement savings plans, a major entry point to saving.
And as a Latina, it pains me to see that our Latino community and our African American brothers and sisters are hit hardest by the retirement savings crisis in this country. According to Pew, 62 percent of Hispanic workers don’t have access to retirement savings plans through their employers, compared to 37 percent of white non-Hispanic workers.
This week is America Saves Week and I’m working to get the message out to people in Miami about myRA and to urge you to ¡Ahorrar, ahora!
Here’s what you need to know about myRA:
It’s simple. You can set up automatic contributions from your paycheck or from your bank account and you can access these deposits without incurring tax and penalty. At tax time, you can direct part of your refund into your account when you file. Depending on your income, you may qualify to file your taxes for free through some awesome local organizations like Branches, the United Way, and Catalyst. Make sure to ask them about myRA and see if you qualify for the Saver’s Credit.
It’s safe. The account is backed by the U.S. Treasury and carries no risk of losing money. Money invested in a myRA earns interest at the same rate as investments available to federal employees.
It’s affordable. It costs nothing to open a myRA account and there are no fees. And, there are no minimum balance or contribution requirements. People can save an amount that fits their budget, and even if you’re strapped for cash, an easy way to get started is to just put away an amount each month that reflects your age – so $30 a month if you’re 30 years old – and then increase how much you are saving when you can.
It takes only a few minutes to sign up online at myRA.gov.
Miami is a haven for artists, small business owners, entrepreneurs, co-working space lovers, musicians, Lyft drivers, part-time/seasonal workers, community justice movers and shakers, coders, and dreamers, and if you don’t have a retirement account through work then myRA is the perfect way to get started on your savings journey. Alana Greer, who just launched the Miami-based Community Justice Project, loves myRA for its ability to give her peace of mind for her co-founders’ futures and those of the clients she serves.
Our dream of being a retiree, sipping a café con leche while watching the sun set from a beach chair behind the Fontainebleau, won’t be cheap, so start saving now!
Your View is a recurring series of opinion pieces from members of The New Tropic community. To share your ideas, goals, and work about Miami with the community in a Your View piece, please submit it here.