Do you get a nagging feeling when you procrastinate doing something that needs your attention?
I recently noticed that dust has accumulated -- again -- along the perimeter of the carpeting in my home. You know -- the space where the carpeting meets the wall that you can't get with the vacuum cleaner? It may not be noticeable to others, but it's really been bugging me. For weeks I've been meaning to get out the vacuum cleaner, attach the relevant part to the hose and just take an hour to suck up the dust. Now that my brother is coming to visit in March, I have incentive to get this job done soon.
Inertia is a powerful force, but it can be conquered.
This week is America Saves Week. Led by the Consumer Federation of America and the American Savings Education Council, it's a time when the financial industry attempts to raise our awareness of the importance of setting aside a portion of our income.
My inbox is filled with statements about America Saves Week from various financial organizations, including the Independent Community Bankers of America, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and the Employee Benefit Research Institute, or EBRI. Even Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry issued a statement of support:
"I'm proud of the role that national banks and federal savings associations play in helping Americans build the savings they need to improve their lives -- to buy homes, put children through school, prepare for retirement and set aside money in rainy-day funds that are so important when unexpected emergencies crop up."
Incentive to save
If you haven't already done so, what would motivate you to set aside 10 percent to 15 percent of your income toward retirement?
For me, it was the presentation by two brokers at a Women In Communications luncheon I attended when I was in my early 30s. When you're young, you don't think about retirement. But these two women brought it home when they said, "Women who don't save for retirement throughout their careers can end up living in poverty."
In this country, poverty is something that can be avoided with a little retirement planning.
Today, about 11 percent of women age 65 and older live in poverty, according to the Census Bureau. I have a friend who lives in poverty. It's not a pretty picture.
Things happen when people get older. Some develop health issues. Others lose their jobs and have trouble finding another source of income. It's good to have a nest egg to fall back on in the event of an unforeseen development.
I asked a retirement expert this question: What's the single most important message that Americans need to hear to prepare for retirement?
"I would say that you need to prepare for retirement, and prepare with an awareness that you don't always control the when or how of it," says Nevin Adams, director of the American Savings Education Council and co-director of EBRI Center for Research on Retirement Income.
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Barbara Whelehan is a co-author of "Future Millionaires' Guidebook," an e-book by Bankrate editors and reporters. It is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore and other e-book retailers.