Three Simple Steps: How to Start Saving for Retirement

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By Chuck Saletta

road signpost pointing to work and retire with person walking down the road

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Saving for your retirement is a big deal. Barring the income you might get from pensions (not what they once were) and Social Security (not likely to stay what it once was) all you’ll have is the money you save to last you the rest of your life. And it’s no secret that if your accounts run dry, it’s incredibly difficult for a retiree to rejoin the workforce a decade or more after leaving it.

Given all that, it’s understandable if you’re a bit worried about coming up with enough money that you’ll be able to retire comfortably on your terms. While building and maintaining that nest egg is a long-term commitment, it’s important to remember that you have the rest of your career to get there. With a solid plan and the flexibility to handle life’s curve balls, you can greatly improve your chances of retiring with a portfolio that can last as long as you do.

3 Steps to Get From Here to Retired

The toughest part of investing for retirement is that you face so many unknowns. How long will you live? What will the market do? Will your Social Security benefits get cut? How tame (or wild) will inflation be? Will your mental and physical health hold out, or will you need the help of a caregiver?

Those are all wise questions to ask, but unfortunately, they can’t be answered with any certainty until it’s too late to do anything about it. The best any of us can really do is develop a reasonable plan based on decent assumptions, and then adjust as life happens. With that in mind, here is a three-step foundation for a solid plan:

1. Set a target. What sort of lifestyle do you want in your retirement? Are you the kind of person who’d be happy rocking away on the stoop, watching the world go by? Or do you picture a retirement filled with world travel, box seats at the symphony, and generous philanthropic gifts to your favorite charities?

Whatever your plans, start by estimating your anticipated monthly expenses. Subtract from that your anticipated net Social Security check and any monthly pension payments you may get, then multiply the remainder by 300. That’s about how large your total portfolio will need to be to cover your costs. At that size, your portfolio should generate enough growth and income that you can take advantage of the 4 percent rule, a solid (if rough) estimate that will help reduce the odds that you’ll outlive your money.

2. Take what help you can get, and ramp up when you can. While that 300-times-monthly-expenses estimate may seem daunting, there are a number programs available to help you build your nest egg faster. Qualified retirement accounts like IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and the government’s Thrift Savings …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

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