Money Monday: Retirement Doesn’t Just Happen

Money Monday: Retirement Doesn’t Just Happen

Having a financially comfortable future takes planning, commitment and money.

Published October 10, 2011

Can’t wait for the day where you can buy that house in Costa Rica and wake up to the glistening sun and sparkling blue ocean every morning?


It may be a little far-fetched, but it’s not impossible to have the sand outside of your window when you retire if that’s how you’d like to live. The key to having a financially successful retirement, however, starts now.


The average American spends 20 years in retirement, but fewer than half have calculated how much they need to save for their retirement, according to the Department of Labor.


Financial security in retirement doesn’t just happen. It takes planning, commitment and dare we say it…money.


Here’s something to consider from


“If you begin saving for retirement at 25, putting away $2,000 a year for just 40 years, you'll have around $560,000, assuming earnings grow at eight percent annually. Now, let's say you wait until you're 35 to start saving. You put away the same $2,000 a year, but for three decades instead, and earnings grow at eight percent a year. When you're 65 you'll wind up with around $245,000 — less than half the money." breaks down some tips the Department of Labor shares when planning to live comfortably in your later years:


1. Saving Is Not Just a Term. Do It!


If you have ever saved in your life, you probably know that it is a rewarding habit. Saving for retirement is no different. After years of working hard you’ll be happy that you had something stored away. Start small if you have to and try to increase the amount you save each month. Your money has more time to grow the sooner you start saving. Devise a plan where you would like to be in five years, then 10 years and stick to it.


2. Get Educated About What You Want in Retirement

Retirement is expensive. Experts estimate that you will need about 70 percent of your pre-retirement income to maintain your standard of living when you stop working. Planning now is the key to being financially successful. You can start by requesting Savings Fitness: A Guide to Your Financial Future and, for those near retirement, Taking the Mystery Out of Retirement Planning from the Department of Labor.


3. Contribute to Your Employer’s Retirement Savings Plan


Consider yourself lucky if your employer is offering a retirement savings plan, such as a 401(k). This makes it much simpler to save for retirement because your taxes will be lower, your company will contribute and you can have automatic deductions taken directly from your paycheck. If you are not sure of the details of your company’s plan, start by asking how much you would need to contribute to get the full employer contribution and how long you would need to stay in the plan to get the promised money.


This link also provides more information on what you should know about your current retirement plan if you have one.


4. How You Save Matters


How you save is important to how much money you will have in retirement. Put your savings in different types of investments in order to reduce risk and improve return. Talk with a banker to see how you can mix your investments over time depending on your age, goals and financial circumstances.


5. Don’t Touch! It’s Yours, But Not Yet


You can lose principal and interest and possibly even tax benefits if you withdraw from your savings now. Additionally, you may have to pay withdrawal penalties if you take out money now. If you switch jobs, leave your savings invested in your current retirement plan, or roll them over to an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) or your new employer’s plan.


6. Invest on Your Own


If your company does not have a retirement plan, you can also invest money by putting it into an Individual Retirement Account, or an IRA. You can deposit up to $5,000 a year, and even more if you are 50 or older.



There’s nothing wrong with wanting to know how you are going to live in the future. Don’t be afraid to talk to your employer, your bank, your union or a financial adviser so that you can get practical advice and start investing in your future now.


For more information on financial retirement planning visit the Employee Benefits Security Administration here.



To contact or share story ideas with Danielle Wright, follow and tweet her at @DaniWrightTV.



(Photo: REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

Written by Danielle Wright


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