Millennial on a Mission

Harris County Human Resources Manager Gloria Williams is a millennial on a mission. For the past decade, she has been steadily building her career and strengthening her finances with one goal in mind: to retire with total financial freedom.

“I want to be able to retire as soon as I’m eligible, focus on my passions in life and not have to return to the workforce if I don’t want to,” she says. Globetrotting with her family and owning a beachside or international vacation home are major post-career goals, too.

As a Human Resources professional, Gloria has witnessed the joy and fulfillment employees receive when they plan ahead for retirement — and the stress they face when they’re stuck playing catch-up later in their careers. Her advice?

  • Pay off debt
    Start with “bad” debt, like credit card balances, and then start chipping away at “good” debt, like car, education and home loans.

    “You don’t want to have to continue to work years after you’ve reached the point of retirement eligibility just to pay off expenses,” she says. “My goal is to retire with as little debt as possible. This way, I can ensure my retirement payment goes strictly to living and doing the things I’m passionate about.”

  • Start other retirement accounts
    Gloria started a 457(b) deferred compensation account when she began her career at Harris County and plans to use it as an additional source of income, along with her TCDRS account and Social Security.

  • Check your accounts often
    “Retirement is not an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ goal’,” she says. “I periodically check my TCDRS and other accounts online to put my eyes on my money and how much time I have left. It helps to have a visual and to stay connected to the milestone so that it seems real and attainable.”

  • Grow your personal-finance knowledge
    Finding a trustworthy money mentor and following respected personal finance publications and podcasts like Money and Forbes, can also help you boost your financial savvy.

  • Get vested
    Even if you’re unsure of your ultimate career goals and may eventually leave your company, be sure to stay long enough to earn vesting.

“Planning for your retirement early in your life and career is important, and it’s a big responsibility that you owe yourself to make sure you pay yourself,” Gloria says. “Retirement may seem a long way off, but as many have told me, it goes by fast, and it will be here before we know it.”


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