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Ken's Top 10 Ways to Begin Saving for Retirement

11:14 PM, Nov 15, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Even if you're not a baby boomer poised for retirement, the economic downturn has raised questions about what it will take to retire.

Forbes said it will take more than $1 million; other financial planners said about 60-80 percent of your current net income.

But a recent MSNBC poll found that most Americans doubt they've saved enough to retire comfortably.

Here are my Top 10 ways to help you save for retirement.

Number 10:

Financial planners say examine your annual spending habits closely, put them on paper and determine if your retirement income will cover those expenses.

Number Nine:

Take inventory of your assets. Do you have any retirement benefits from a previous job like a pension or an annuity?

Number Eight:

Check with the Social Security Administration to get an estimate of your benefits. Remember, the longer you wait to apply for Social Security the more you can maximize the payments

Number Seven:

If your employer offers a 401(k) plan or a similar retirement plan take full advantage of it, whether you are 25 or 55 years of age.

Number Six:

If the employer contributes to the 401(k), match the company's contribution.

Number Five:

If there's no 401(k), open your own Individual Retirement Account or IRA. Forbes said a Roth IRA grows tax free and all withdrawals in retirement are tax free.

Number Four:

Get a second job to just fund your retirement account, nothing else.

Number Three:

Cut your living expenses now. How you do that is up to you, but your goal is to save more of your income.

Number Two:

Talk with a financial planner. Talking with an expert gives you the much needed insight. Also, talking does not mean you have to use that planner's services.

Number One:

The number one way to save for retirement is to start now. Even if you haven't worked out any kind of retirement plan, get started.

BONUS TIPS (Source: U.S. Dept. of Labor):

What should I do if my employer has no retirment plan?

Suggest your employer start one. There are many options, some very simple that can help you and your employer.

Can I borrow from my retirement savings?

Withdrawing now means you'll lose interest and possibly tax benefits. There are also withdrawal penalities. If you change jobs, leave your savings invested, or roll them over to an IRA or your new employer's plan.

How much do I need to save for retirment?

Plan ahead! Experts estimate:
-- 70 percent of preretirement income
-- Lower earners, 90 percent or more 

MORE: CALCULATOR TO ESTIMATE YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY EARNINGS

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