New to UC? Get Your Future in Gear Now

When you’re starting a new job, there’s no doubt that you have plenty of things going on.

Your job, your family, your living situation—any of these things may be weighing on your mind. While it’s natural to be focusing on the present for the time being, you don’t want to short-change your future, especially when it comes to your retirement.

Fortunately, employer-sponsored plans like the UC Retirement Savings Plans are among the most effective ways to develop good savings habits.

Getting started is easy with our four-step plan:

1. Budget for Savings

If you know how much you are taking in and how much you need to spend, you’ll have a better idea of how much you have to put away for your retirement. After all, the more you have saved for retirement, the more flexibility you’ll have in your budget when you’re living on a fixed income.

Here are the basic steps for creating your budget:

  • Count what you’re taking in—your income. Consider your paycheck, as well as income from your spouse or domestic partner. Be conservative, especially if your income is variable.
  • Determine what you’re spending—your expenses. Track all your expenses for three months to get a feel for your “usual” spending—both fixed and discretionary costs. A three-month picture is certainly not a complete look at your annual expenses, but it’s a good start. Estimate what expenses remain for the remaining nine months of the year, and then divide by 12 to arrive at a monthly expense amount.
  • Compare the two. Subtract your expenses (Step 2) from your income (Step 1). Is the number less than zero? You may be paying the difference out of your savings, which may be affecting your ability to achieve longer-term goals like retirement, or it may be adding to your credit card debt. This kind of debt is very expensive and can really add up.

2. Reduce Your Debt

When you make interest payments on debt, that money can’t be put to use for other things—like your retirement savings. But as you reduce the amount of your outstanding loans, you can potentially add to the value of that money by investing in your future.

Consider doing all you can to reduce your debt—especially your credit card debt—and using the money you save to increase the amount you contribute to your UC 403(b) or 457(b) Plan account.

3. Decide How Much To Save

As a UC employee, you have three retirement savings options. You can contribute to either, or both, the UC 403(b) Plan or the UC 457(b) Plan as long as you are not a student working fewer than 20 hours per week.

During 2017, you can contribute up to $18,000 to each plan; up to $24,000 to each plan if you are age 50 or older. Because you won’t pay taxes on your contributions until you take them out of the plan, more of this pretax money can potentially be put to use helping you grow your retirement nest egg. You can also contribute after taxes to the DC Plan. 

4. Simplify Your Savings

If you have retirement savings in a different account with a former employer or in a traditional IRA, you can simplify your accounts by rolling them in to your UC Retirement Savings Program accounts. This will make it easier for you to track your retirement savings by putting everything in one place—and you'll only need one log-in and phone number.


Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money.

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