Retirement savings for 40-, 50- and 60-year-olds
Max out your company retirement plan
Your company-sponsored 401(k) or 403(b) plan is the first place you should turn when building up your retirement savings. If your company provides a match, that will help you increase what you can save. It's like getting an instant 25 percent, 50 percent or sometimes even a 100 percent return on your investment, depending on your employer's plan.
Be sure to contribute enough to get the full match or you'll leave money on the table. For example, if the plan requires you to contribute 6 percent of your pay to get the full match, defer at least that much into it. If you can contribute even more, do so. Those funds are generally taken directly out of your paycheck, so you won't have the opportunity to spend them on something else.
But don't stop at 6 percent if you can afford to defer more. Many financial planners recommend you sock away 10 percent to 20 percent of your income all through your career. "You should be maxing out your retirement plan, putting as much as you can in it," says John Corn, CPA, an investment adviser with Buckingham Asset Management in St. Louis. In 2010, the maximum you can contribute to a 401(k) or 403(b) plan is $16,500 for employees up to age 50.