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Bankrate's 2008 Retirement Guide
The road ahead
There's no perfect plan for everyone but keeping with solid fundamentals is a wise path for most to follow.
The road ahead
Best retirement moves this year


Whether you are just getting started or fine-tuning your retirement plan, there are several things you can do today to boost your chances of being financially secure in your retirement years.

Retirement moves to make
Start saving
Boost 401(k) contributions
Make IRA contributions
Don't forget a nonworking spouse
Annual financial housekeeping
Consider target-date funds
Get professional advice
Make a withdrawal plan
Update retirement plan documents
Get healthy

Not only do economic changes affect us from year to year, but personal situations can greatly influence how we save for our retirement years. Regardless of these unpredictable factors, there are certain ways to maximize our results, if we just play it smart.

Take a look at these basic tips that may help to make your retirement years more enjoyable, less stressful, and with less financial burden.

Start saving
Sure, it's obvious. Nevertheless, too few workers are setting aside money for their golden years. "It's never too late to start retirement savings, and never too late to beef it up," says Dee Lee, a Certified Financial Planner and author of "Women & Money."

If you're fortunate enough to receive a raise or bonus in your job, perhaps you can set aside all or part of your extra earnings, or a regular portion of your paycheck, for retirement. But even if you don't have extra cash to stow away, small changes in your daily life can reap big rewards.

Cut back on the number of times you order take-out dinners or go out to eat each month. Be creative in ways to reduce your spending on a daily basis, thereby adding extra savings in the long run.

Maximize (or boost) 401(k) contributions
In recent years, employers have been backing away from providing pensions, lifetime health insurance and other benefits that had been valuable safety nets to employees long after they leave work.

Companies are putting the onus on workers by adopting 401(k) plans and other plans that are funded by employees' salaries, rather than company largesse. The number of employers offering old-style pension plans has been dropping steadily, according to Hewitt Associates.

If you have a 401(k) plan at work and aren't putting as much as you can in it, increase your contributions. In 2008, individuals can stash up to $15,500 of pretax earnings in a 401(k). For those 50 or older by year's end, the limit is $20,500. The overall contribution cap to a 401(k) (including employer matching funds) is $46,000.

-- Posted: Nov. 10, 2008
 
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