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Retirement Planning for Every Stage of Your Education Career

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Retirement Planning for Every Stage of Your Education Career

As each school year comes and goes, one can witness K-12 students steadily advancing toward their graduation goals. But, as an educator, there’s something else you might want to keep an eye on: Your retirement.

A group of five people wearing lanyards walking on the sidewalk

Your career has stages — so does retirement planning. Whether you are a seasoned educator or it’s your first year walking school hallways and supporting students, there are steps you can take at each stage to advance your retirement goals. And it's never too early — or too late — to begin.

To make sure you are hitting your stride, let’s look at what you can do at each stage of your education career.

Just starting out

It’s exciting to land your first job in education, but begin your career with the end in mind. As you’re preparing for all that’s ahead with your students, it’s smart to think about your retirement, as far off as it may seem. Some strategies include:

Know your retirement goals

Before beginning any journey, it’s wise to know where you want to go before you depart. Pause now and consider what you want your retirement to look like — think about when you’d like to retire, where you might want to live and what sort of lifestyle will suit you. Articulating what you want your retirement years to look like — even if it’s 20 years down the road — may help you make steady progress toward your desired financial future.

Start saving

As a Texas school employee, your paycheck will include your regular contribution to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS).1 That’s a good first step to your retirement plan. But TRS isn't your only option when it comes to saving for retirement. Consider contributing — also through payroll deductions — to any 403(b) or 457(b) plans your employer may offer.

» Tip: If your income is within income limits for Roth IRA contributions, you can also establish a Roth IRA and make after-tax contributions whenever your budget allows — the 2024 annual contribution limit2 is $7,000 for anyone under the age of 50. Over 50? You may be eligible for catch-up contributions.

Budget and watch expenses

Maintain your financial health and look for ways to save for your future by budgeting. Incurring significant debt makes it tough to save, so limit your debt by planning and controlling expenses.

Consider starting an investment account

Investing3 can help your money grow. Consider working with a financial advisor, and be sure to examine your investments annually to adjust for any new life events like marriage, divorce or starting a family.

Keep contributing to your retirement savings

Look for opportunities to increase your contributions to your retirement savings accounts. Pay yourself first when you receive raises or bonuses — increase your deposits to your retirement plan based upon your pay increase.

Hitting your stride

As your potential retirement date draws closer, it’s time to review your goals — and your retirement timeline — to be sure you’re where you want to be.

Know where your assets are — and how they're performing over the long term

Review your retirement and investment accounts annually. Adjust as needed to keep your plan on track.

» Tip: Understanding your TRS pension benefits is key to your retirement savings. TRS offers a retirement estimate calculator4 that shows what your monthly annuity will be based on your years of employment. Review the numbers and then look for ways to supplement your TRS pension.

Contribute as much as possible to your retirement savings

As your salary grows through your career, so should your retirement contributions. Remember to prioritize your savings. A financial advisor can explain various ways you might meet your goals — and help you make the most of your contributions.

Stay on track no matter where you work

Employment changes shouldn’t derail your savings plan. If you have met the program’s vesting requirements, many employers allow you to retain your pension account — though you won't be able to contribute additional funds to that pension. Other participating programs — 403(b) or 457(b) — may be rolled over5 into an account with a new employer or other retirement accounts where you can add funds.

Approaching the finish line

You’re comfortable in your job and watching your career grow. But retirement is still on the horizon, so keep an eye on your savings — and your future.

Adjust your retirement goals, if necessary

As retirement moves closer and closer, check the list of goals you outlined when you began working. Have your goals shifted or changed? Are you planning to retire sooner rather than later? Does relocating now seem more likely? Is a post-retirement career in your future? Your answers could mean adjusting your savings plan or supplementing your savings.

Review your savings

If you've followed your savings plan and invested wisely, your retirement accounts may be where you’d hoped they be. But you might not have saved as much as you need for the retirement you want — or your investments may have been challenging. And of course, economic pressures like inflation may make retirement more expensive than you’d anticipate. Look for additional ways to save and budget for your retirement.

» Tip: Again, federal law allows you to contribute more to your retirement savings accounts once you turn age 50. You may use these “catch-up contributions6 to help you save more for retirement.

Think about post-retirement taxes

Once you retire and begin drawing from your pension and savings accounts, you'll want to understand the tax implications7 of your withdrawals — and position yourself to provide as much tax-free income as possible. Talk with your financial advisor for guidance before retirement to help structure your savings to potentially lower your tax burden.

Review your pension payment options

TRS offers its members several ways to receive a monthly annuity once you have met the requirements for retirement, including partial lump sum options that reduce the monthly benefit but give you some of your money up front. The TRS Benefits Handbook8 can help answer questions about your payment options.

The takeaway

No matter where you are in your career journey, be sure to keep your retirement plan in mind. Making your retirement savings a priority will help you finish your career strong — and prepare you for the retirement you deserve.

Plan your future with more confidence. When you’re ready for help getting your retirement plan on track, schedule your initial no-cost, no-obligation consultation with the RBFCU Retirement Program.

Last updated March 2024.

Information in this article is general in nature and for your consideration, not as financial advice. Please contact your own financial professionals regarding your specific needs before taking any action based upon this information.

Investment products are not insured by the FDIC, NCUA or any federal agency, are not deposits or obligations of, or guaranteed by any financial institution, and involve investment risks including possible loss of principal and fluctuation in value.

Ameriprise Financial Services has a partnership with this financial institution to provide financial planning services and solutions to clients. The financial institution is not an investment client of Ameriprise but has a revenue sharing relationship with us that creates a conflict of interest. Details on how we work together can be found on

This information is being provided only as a general source of information and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any securities, accounts or strategies mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the primary basis for investment decisions, nor should it be construed as a recommendation or advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual investor. Please seek the advice of a financial advisor regarding your particular financial situation.

Tax-deferred earnings and contributions are not taxed until withdrawn. Amounts withdrawn prior to age 59 ½ may also be subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty.

Be sure you understand the potential benefits and risks of an IRA rollover or transfer before implementing. As with any decision that has tax implications, you should consult with your tax adviser prior to implementing an IRA rollover or transfer.

Ameriprise Financial is not affiliated with the financial institution.

The initial consultation provides an overview of financial planning concepts. You will not receive written analysis and/or recommendations.

RBFCU Retirement Program, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC, is a division of RBFCU Investments Group LLC.

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The following sources were last accessed in March 2024.

1“Teacher Retirement System of Texas.”,

2“401(k) Limit Increases to 23,000 for 2024, IRA Limit Rises to 7,000.”,

3“A Guide for Teachers - Making Money Grow.”,

4“Retirement Estimate Calculator.”,

5“A Guide for Teachers - Planning for Retirement.”,

6“Retirement Topics: 401(k) and Profit-Sharing Plan Contribution Limits.”,

7“Manage Your Taxes in Retirement.”,

8“Teacher Retirement System of Texas Benefits Handbook.”,