Last Updated: January 3, 2011
Retirement may seem a long way off for people in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Why fret about something that’s decades away? Ben Franklin once said that we must “Look before, or you'll find yourself behind.”
Financial advisers estimate that families in Generation X (people born between 1965 and 1976) and Generation Y (people born between 1977 and 1994) will need to save between $2 million and $3 million to live comfortably during retirement. Moreover, an estimated 80 percent of American workers are expected to fall short of meeting all their financial needs in retirement unless they take immediate action to save more.
But it’s not too late to start saving for retirement! Here are some suggestions to maximize retirement savings now so you worry less later:
Assess your cash-flow by creating a budget. Exactly how much can you afford to set aside each month for retirement? To find out, look at how much money you take home in a month, and how much you spend. How much of your spending covers basic living expenses (mortgage or rent, food, utilities, etc.) and how much is discretionary (eating out, vacations, etc.)? Then decide how much of your discretionary spending you can afford to put away for later.
Envision the future. What goals and milestones do you want to achieve on the road to, and during, retirement. Do you want to fund a child’s or grandchild’s education, buy a vacation home or travel? What contingencies do you need to account for, such as health, disability and nursing care, as you get older?
Plan for the future. Once you get a vision of your future, it’s time to build a formal plan designed to get you to, and through, retirement on your terms. It’s worth asking a retirement planning expert for help drafting that plan, including such vital ingredients as an investment policy statement and an asset allocation model.
Seize opportunities now. The following steps (taken with the help of a retirement planning specialist as needed) can make a huge difference down the road:
- Participate in your employer's retirement plan, at least to where your employer matches contributions.
- Consider investing in a “Roth” account, either inside or outside an employer’s retirement plan. Funds in Roth accounts come out tax-free.
- Look at other retirement savings vehicles, such as traditional Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).
- Maximize retirement plan contributions if possible.
- Automate retirement contributions so saving is a no-brainer.