Can You Afford to Retire?

elderly seniors coupleHave you ever sat down and figured out how much you’d need for a comfortable retirement? If not, don’t worry – you’re not alone! According to the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), fewer than half of all Americans have calculated how much they will need to save for retirement.

While it’s important to plan, it’s also important to set realistic, achievable goals. Know your options and ask questions. Set aside time to talk with your employer about retirement plans. Your employer may offer benefits like 401(k) plans which allow for an immediate tax deduction growth on your savings.

“While earlier generations of retirees relied on employer provided pensions, today’s workers will need to rely on their own work-related and personal savings for retirement,” said Stephen A. Cox, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “That’s why it’s extremely important to have an alternate plan and save as much as possible.”

BBB and USDOL recommend that consumers consider the following to ensure a more financially comfortable retirement:

  • Get started. Start saving now and continue to stick to your savings goal — it’s never too late to start saving. Make a budget and use it! Saving can be fun if you think big and realize how much it will pay off when the times comes to retire.
  • Get realistic. According to the USDOL, you’ll need about 70% of your preretirement income. If you’re a lower earners, you’ll need 90% or more to maintain your standard of living when you stop working. The average retiree is in retirement for 20 years of their life. Plan ahead and learn how much you will need after factoring in Social Security and other sources of retirement income.
  • Take advantage. Of your employer’s retirement savings plans, that is. If your company offers a 401(k) plan, participate in it. There may even matche a percentage of your contribution. If your employer doesn’t offer a plan, think about opening an IRA or Roth IRA. You can put up to $5,000 a year into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and contribute even more if you are 50 or older.
  • Leave it alone. Avoid touching your retirement savings if at all possible. If you withdraw your retirement savings now, you’ll lose principal and interest and you may lose tax benefits or have to pay withdrawal penalties. If you change jobs, leave your savings in your current retirement plan, or roll them over to an IRA or your new employer’s plan.
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