Cents and Sensibility

Saving for Retirement

Don't put retirement planning off! If you do, you may end up not being able to enjoy it. Our resident money expert helps you start saving now.
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Don’t put retirement planning off, if you do, you may end up not being able to enjoy it. No matter your age, you can always start saving for retirement.

Kent Caldwell Meeks, senior director of investment and fiduciary services, senior vice president at Wells Fargo Private Bank, helps us understand what we should be doing at all ages. Check out where you fall on this timeline.

In your 20s—The best thing to do now is to start saving. Make a habit of contributing regularly to a savings account or IRA. When you start saving now, your money has a chance to grow. Use a retirement savings calculator to estimate how much you should save toward retirement.

In your 30s—Three key things. First, have a safety net for your family—six months’ worth of income for unexpected, urgent family expenses. Next, write down your retirement goals—it’s useful to jot down your best guesses for the age you want to retire, where, and what you plan to do in retirement. Thirdly, start saving (yes, this is a repeat from your 20s!)—you’ll benefit hugely from the power of compound interest.

In your 40s—Keep your debt down so you’ll have more money to save. Also, be sure you have a suitable investment mix in your tax-advantaged retirement savings plans. A financial advisor can help you plot a strategy and take advantage of the best ways to save for retirement.

In your 50s—You may have the ability to earn and save more. Make the most of these years by increasing the amount you’re saving in tax-advantaged retirement plans or save even more by going beyond workplace plans. If you’re behind in your savings goal, take a look at catch-up strategies.

In your 60s—It’s time to start preparing for the transition. Create a realistic plan for your life in retirement—What do you want to do? Who do you want to spend time with? Where do you want to live? Determine these answers and then decide if your retirement plans are in line with the resources you have to fund them. It may make sense to consolidate your retirement savings with one provider to ensure your investment plan is coordinated, making it easier to track your savings, and possibly take advantage of reduced fees.

In your 70s and beyond—Focus now on your income plan – how you pay yourself in retirement – and your estate plan. Manage your retirement finances to make your money last and design a plan that can protect you, your spouse, and your heirs no matter what life brings. Consider working with a team of specialists to manage and administer your assets for future generations.

About Dr. Karen Ratliff

Karen Ratliff

Credit: Dr. Karen Ratliff

Dr. Ratliff is a certified life coach and professional educator, assisting many people in accomplishing financial, career, and educational goals.  She is also the author of “Tightening Your Bootstraps: 104 Tips to Kick Your Debt to the Curb Now.” Keep up with her budgetary advice via Twitter @drkarenratliff and her website at