5 ways to jump-start your retirement fund

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Fuel your retirement savings fund this way: Get started today! Here’s how.

1. Get a number. Just start.   Tools, such as online calculators available at the Social Security Administration Web site and other educational sites can help wage earners determine how much their benefits will be and how much they need to save for the retirement of their dreams. Now, read “5 steps for figuring out your ‘big number.

2. Be smart with spending.  Make decisions today about how you spend, save and invest. Doing this will impact what you have tomorrow. Capitalize on resources available to you at your workplace, or talk with your parents or someone who you respect. Many companies offer free financial-planning education and investment guidance to help individuals take charge of their retirement savings. Find out what’s available for you.

3. Start saving now.  “One of the biggest mistakes people make is they’re so overwhelmed they do nothing. They look at their number and think ‘I can’t ever save that,’ so they do nothing,” says Dick Bellmer, chairman of National Association of Professional Financial Administrators. “But it’s like that old saying: ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ One bite at a time.” Pay yourself now, stick to it and be patient.

Join your employer’s plan.  The good news is there’s lots of incentive and help to save. Many employers are stepping up plans to automatically enroll employees in a 401(k) or other retirement plan. Financial products, such as the so-called lifestyle or age-targeted mutual funds, can make it simpler to choose investments that are designed to meet your retirement goals. Check with your company’s human resources department for guidance.

Start an IRA.  Individual retirement accounts, or IRAs, give people a way to build tax-deferred savings for retirement. An IRA is an account, not an investment. You can put just about whatever investments you want into your IRA — stocks, CDs, mutual funds, cash and bonds — anything except options and other derivatives. You may be eligible to open an IRA even if you have a plan at work. Learn more here about IRAs.

Are you worried about having enough money to retire someday? Or, do you have a plan of action? Share your story

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