Ask The Readers: When Did You Start Saving For Retirement?

By Ashley Jacobs on 21 June 2011 (Updated 28 June 2011) 132 comments
Photo: Eric Chan

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Kristina WittchenGuest, and Indymoney for winning this week's contest!

The topic of retirement comes up quite a bit in the personal finance world. With people concerned as to whether or not they will receive social security checks once they retire, more and more people are understanding the importance of making sure to save money so they can support themselves in retirement.

When did you start saving for retirement?  Was it when you got your first job? When you turned 20, 30, or 40? What caused you to start saving? Or have you not started saving for retirement yet?

Tell us when you started saving for retirement and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below 

For extra entries (1 per action):

  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, and leave a comment telling us you did, or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it. Leave a link to your tweet (click the timestamp for the individual URL) in a separate comment.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, June 27th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after June 27th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email, Facebook, and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Note: Due to recent changes in Facebook's promotions guidelines, we have restructured the entry format of our giveaways.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Rachel

I started saving for retirement at 26, when I joined a company with a matching benefits program. Alas, the program didn't last -- but I rolled the savings over into a new retirement account, and now put in a set amount monthly. It was a great way to start saving -- the barriers to beginning were low, and there was enough support that I didn't feel intimidated about picking funds.

Guest's picture
rbee

Started saving/(paying myself in the future) for re-fire-ment(mentoring others) with my first job!

Guest's picture

I started actively saving for retirement when I turned 30. Before then, I was a bit arrogant about it. I ran a small business and I thought the business was my retirement plan. I remember I was dating a girl who showed me how foolish that was. Looking back, I am surprised it took me that long. I have always prided myself on my financial literacy, but youth and arrogance got in the way of sound financial decisions.

Guest's picture

I started funding my 401k on the first day of my first job. I only contributed 6% back then, now I contribute the max, but I never missed the money.

Daniel Packer's picture

I started saving when I got my first job out of college, at 21. I know I'm ahead of my peers and it makes me excited to see just how big that account balance will grow!

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Ally

I started a Roth IRA when I was 19 and added a TSP starting at age 23.

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Mark Ard

I have been saving for retirement since I was 18. My first job offered a 3% match so I took it, and now my wife and I save the max Roth IRA plus her 5% match 401k.

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Megan

Exactly 1 year ago, when I started my first job after college. Considering any full time job would result in magnitudes more money than I've ever seen EVER, I don't even notice my automatic 401k deductions and IRA withdraws. No student loans helps, though. I'm still in the phase of feeling flush with cash.

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Jimmy

I started saving for retirement with my first job out of college at age 22. I've always maxed out my IRA contribution each year and when my employer had 401k plans, I did my best to contribute 15%.

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Guest

Sadly not until our late thirties - playing catchup!

Guest's picture
Guest

In my early twenties, right after I started my first job. My mother told me to put 2000 into an IRA in the local bank. I did that for the first two years after I started working. Then, I didn't start saving for retirement until my early thirties, when I started a new job with a company that had a 401K program.

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Emily

I started saving as soon as I got a paycheck. Every little bit helps! Start when you're young and don't have as many bills to pay and start getting in the habit of saving. I started BEFORE I was 20!

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Keith

Started saving for retirement when I started my first full-time job (22 years old). liked on facebook!

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Nicholas

Officially the start of my retirement planning was when I got my first job right out of college when I was 23. I then got more detailed a year later after I was out of my probationary period at work and a had one promotion under my belt.

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Guest

When I was first hired as a teacher, I started saving but just a tiny bit. Since then, I've increased the amount but do wish I had done more right at the beginning.

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Paul

I started saving a couple years after I got out of college and after I got married. I realized that I couldn't pass up the matching contribution to my 401k that my company offered.

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Dan

I started at age 26. Now at 62 I have saved enough to enjoy a comfortable retirement.

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kevin

i started contributing with my first salaried job out of college. 401k automatically deducted out of each paycheck.

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Mel

When I was 11. I don't think I considered it "for retirement" specifically back then -- the concept was too fuzzy and I didn't know about things like IRAs or 401(k), but that's when I started saving a little bit of money that I would never, ever, ever touch... and that money is still with me today in my retirement account. It's not much, but to a kid, a few hundred dollars (saved over the course of middle school) was a small fortune not spent on ice cream or movie tickets like my little brother did.

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NJJ

I started saving for my retirement when I got my first job. With the economy unshaky nowadays, I'm surely not counting on social security to help fund my retirement.

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Jamie Baker

I actually started saving for retirement about two months ago. I'm 26 and figured it was a good time to start.

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Max

I should have started the moment I landed a good paying job. Unfortunately I was one among many who has a dwindling savings account. I guess that's why I scour the internet looking for places to get great deals and save on some extra cash.

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Justine

I began paying into the local government retirement system at 22 when I got my first "grown-up" job. I started my Roth IRA at 25. At 26, retirement feels like a bazillion years away!

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Brian Purdy

I started at age 18 with a Scottrade account and have built upon that until starting my 401k at age 22.

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Guest

I started saving for retirement when I get my first part time job at 17. I didn't have any bills back then because I was living at home. I'm glad I started so early because every bit helps.

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Guest

I started saving for retirement when I turned 26. I had been working with my current employer for 3 yrs by then, but had a hard time bringing myself to putting money away for later when I could be spending it on fun yet frivolous things NOW! I grew out of that mentality and started contributing a generous amount to my 401k.

Guest's picture
Lynda

it was when i read my first financial book "smart women finish first" back when i was 25 or so. shortly after i got my first real job so that's when i took action!

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Lynda

i like wisebread on facebook

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Lynda

tweeted http://twitter.com/#!/oshkoshbgosh123/status/83195677085138945

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David

I started saving since I graduated from college, but didn't put money into a Roth IRA until my first job. Now I'm putting money into a 457 and hoping I'll still get a decent pension when I retire.

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Thomas

I started saving for retirement at 23, when I set up my 401k with my company.

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Lauren

Started saving for retirement at 21- everyone kept telling me the greatest advantage I had was time.

Guest's picture
ALS

I am currently 26 years old. I started saving for retirement at age 23. I was finished with college but had not yet started my career permanently (at age 25). It was 2009 and I decided it was a great time to start a Roth IRA since the economy tanked. I through a few thousand out of my emergency fund into a Roth at Vanguard and watched it grow. I now have the federal government's Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) which will match my contributions up to 5%. I'm currently investing 6% with an extra 5% coming from the government. I pay myself first with that investment and I pay myself last into my Roth IRA with the money left over from each paycheck.

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Lauren

I have "liked" your facebook page:)

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Lauren

timestamp for twitter:) http://twitter.com/#!/ldelangel/status/83202877430046720

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Will

I started saving with my first job. Even though I have never made more than $40k, and I have had mediocre investing results, I have managed to save a million dollars. You must be willing to live simply, and save 25-50% of your income though. I am 63 now.

Guest's picture
KelR1

Uh...I haven't really started yet (I'm in my 30s. I've had savings that have been wiped out by medical bills and such, and I've spent so much time trying to pay down debt that retirement has been on the backburner (bad, I know). My husband has a 401(k), and we're trying to get back on track and save more right now.

Guest's picture
susana

I started saving at 26 when i got out of the peace corps and opened a roth. As a freelancer I maxed out a roth and sep ira every year and now as a pt govt worker i contribute 20 percent of my pt salary to my tsp, contribute to a sep ira (for my freelance work) and max out a roth.

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Matt

Started saving for retirement when my parents made me put a good portion of my paper route money into a bank account for that purpose. But I started my official 401k as soon as my first job out of college would let me and been going strong ever since!

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Kristy OT

I made one initial deposit when I turned 18, but I've been in school ever since. As soon as I get out and get a job, I'll start making up for lost time.

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Craig

I started saving with my first job out of college at 23. It wasn't much at first, but now I'm saving a higher percentage of my paycheck, and my retirement accounts are growing.

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Betty

I didn't start until I was 38. My job had a plan that I joined. I started small and have increased since.

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Betty

Tweeted my response on twitter. http://twitter.com/#!/1bets1/status/83214500119068672

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Lacey

I started saving a few months after I started my first job after college. When I moved to another job a year later, my employer match contributions and I started maxing out what I could put in my 401K. Was doing really well and then... I quit my job right as the economy went bust. Spent a year and a half working just part time and living paycheck to paycheck. But now, I'm in a new job, am paying off my bills and signed up for my new 401K today!

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David M

When did I start working? Thats when I started saving for retirement. The answer is when I was 22 years old.

I have been putting in the maximum allowed for the last 20 years. For some years that was 10% of my salary, some years it was 15% of my salary and some years that has been the IRS limit - now $16,500.

Additionally for the last 10 years I have been funding a Roth IRA up to the maximum limit - now $5,000 but less in prior years.

I also have been funding a HSA as part of a High Deductable Health Insurance plan for the last 4 years - current maximum about $6,000. I wish they offered and I had a HDHI plan for the last 20 years - that would be a nice extra retirement fund. I currently have about $20,000 that I never paid tax on and is growing tax free every year - not bad.

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mkibrick

I started saving 3 years ago when I started graduate school and got engaged. I was 22 and DH was 24. DH and I both started our employee retirement accounts then a year and a half later we started my Roth IRA.

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April

I started when I got my first full time job.

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Rachel

When I was 14, my Dad opened an IRA for me and convinced me to periodically move money to it while I was a teenager. My Dad is a smart guy and gave me a heard start on retirement. I didn't get done with school and start a job until I was 25, I'm slowly building a 401K (with employer matches thankfully) now but it was a nice to already have about 8K in a retirement account.

Guest's picture
Allison

I started saving 8% as soon as I got a full-time job after college graduation (22). Five years later, I'm up to 13% in a 401K and maxed out in my IRA every year.

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Matt

at age 22 right when i started my first big boy job

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Eric

I started when I got my second "real job" at 23. I put in 3% matched by the company, another 3% in a Roth, and 3% in discounted company stock. All have paid off quite well even though I am no longer with the company.

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Guest

age 21, when i got my first salaried job out of college

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amanda

When I was 22, at my first "real" job.

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Christine

Honestly, I began saving for retirement with my first job right out of college. I had a 401(k) account from my employer (with a good matching percentage). I had minimal expenses back then and could put lots of money away. Glad I did because it gets harder as you add a family and the expenses pile up - it's tempting to skimp on yourself - but don't!

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Lisa

It's shameful to admit, but I didn't ever start saving for retirement. I thought there would be time "later". When an unexpected disability set in at age 40, I was completely unprepared. So please, working people, start early!!!

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Holly

I started at age 23, with my first full-time job. I did matching, maximum and had a very generous employer, so I was able to put away 15%! When I left, I rolled it all into an IRA and then Roth IRA, but some of the fees were mis-calculated, so I still get statements from TIAA-CREFF for my $90. It's such a waste of paper, but I can't get them to close the account!

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Alisa

I started saving at 28, when I finally got a job that offered a 401k plan. So, I've been saving now for almost 14 years.

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Jane

I began saving about 30 years ago when IRA's began. I am still with the same investment firm only it has changed names. Once I earned 150% return with these folks and thought that could happen more often than it did.

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Mary Ann Baclawski

My husband and I started saving for retirement as soon as we started working, back in the late 1970's. Since then, we've gone through a failed small business, 3 moves and me spending a lot of my working life as a stay-at-home mom. Despite that, I didn't care that I got laid off from my part-time job this winter and my husband retired at age 57 last fall. Our estate is worth ~1 million dollars, depending on what the stock market is doing at the moment. Our primary strategy: live frugally and always save as much as possible. Especially in tax-deferred retirement accounts, college savings accounts, etc.

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Guest

Unfortunately, I didn't start until 30. Now I have to work very hard to "catch-up."

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Chris

We started saving this year (first year of marriage) by working to max out the IRAs!

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Chris

we are fans on Facebook - thanks!

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Carmen

I really didn't start my retirement savings until I started my current job when I was eligible for a 401K.

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Chris

We are following on Twitter!

https://twitter.com/#!/cdcookin/status/83242510931066880

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Carmen

tweet : http://twitter.com/#!/cmouse01/status/83242542119915520

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Wendy

I started saving for my retirement when I started my first job, which wasn't until age 26 because I went through grad school. I put money toward both a Roth IRA and 403(b).

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Christie

We started saving with our first "real" jobs! Slowly, but steadily, we have saved each passing year, but it still doesn't seem like it is growing fast enough for me! :)

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Sam

Started at 25. Wish I had started sooner.

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Ernest S.

I started while in college, but didn't really start building it until my first real job (mid-twenties). Of course, now I wish I had started when I was in high school! ;-)

Also, +1 facebook "like".

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Eric

I started just a couple of years ago (at age 32). Mostly because I stopped pursuing acting and got a real job and could afford to save more. :)

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Eric

I liked this on Facebook, too.

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Eric

Also posted on Twitter:

http://twitter.com/#!/starkeee/status/83260117113503746

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Elisabeth

I "liked" your FB update and commented!

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Martha Kern

I used the money I received as a college graduation gift and opened my very first Roth IRA. The application I completed for the account was actually the final assignment I had for a personal finance course. That was a great class with relevancy in the real world.

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Jenny Shaw

I started saving at 17 when I went to work for my mom. She had me open up a 401K which she matched up to 4%. At first, the contributions were tiny of course, I was working part time and going to school, but they were something. I've been working for her full time now for 6 years and I have nearly 30K in my account. Even with only contributing up to the match. (I have a little debt to pay off before I can hyperdrive my savings.)

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MaryBeth

At 24 when I got my first job out of college!

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Betty

Liked your post on Facebook.

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BB

When I got my first real job where a 401K savings was available. I was about 25.

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Eva

When I got my first full-time job, at age 22. Company 401k, signed up without a second thought!

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sandy

40

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Emily Howitz

My dad convinced me to start a Roth IRA in January 2011 by agreeing to match the amount of money I put in up to $100. I turned 21 in December 2010.

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Liz

I started saving when I was 24. I wasn't eligible for an employer match for a 401K, so I had to start things on my own, but I'm glad I did.

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Katie R

I started saving for retirement when I started working full-time after college. It was easy to set-up at 401k, and my company matches my contributions (up to a certain %).

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Katie R

I like wisebread on facebook.

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Chris

Age 19! Opened an IRA after working a summer at my dad's shop.

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GL

I started saving for retirement when I got my first "real" job after college. :)

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Hillarie

Started saving for retirement via 401(k) when I was 20 at my first "real" job.

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Jaime

At 26

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GL

"Liked" your Facebook page, the Facebook status, and replied in the Facebook comment thread - just in case! :))

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Hillarie

Tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/hillarief/status/83303813242564608

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GL

Tweeted (or is it twitted?) my answer for the third entry: http://twitter.com/#!/grigorylukin/status/83304215140777984

Thanks! :^D

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renee

I started saving for retirement when I got married :) I wish I had started when I got my first job though :)

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renee

I like wisebread on facebook

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renee

tweet! http://twitter.com/#!/ReneeAChapman/status/83308094662258689

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Cindy

started in my mid 20's but spent it. Started again in my late 30's

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Cindy

like your facebook page

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Rachel

I opened a Roth IRA through State Farm in August of 2008. Best planning ever! In a few months, my $500 opening investment was worth about $30. It's recovered since, and I really like having something that I absolutely can't touch, as frustrating as that can be sometimes.

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Mitch

I started saving as soon as I had the money to save. Without access to a 401K, I have saved in IRAs since my mid-20s

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Kandace

I first started saving when I got my first real job after college, at 22.