If you are in mid-career or later, than you have some idea of how much retirement has changed over the last decades.
In the past, retirees could rely on a traditional company pension and a generous social security income. Today, we're really on our own when it comes to building a secure retirement.
At the same time, we're living longer and we expect to be more active in retirement than ever before. And that's really good news. But that increases the challenge: how do we pay for longer retirements in today's new world?
Here's what you need to do. You need to understand that it's a new world of retirement, you need to define what retirement means to you, and, most important of all, you need to take action.
The new world of retirement means living longer, being more active and relying on yourself to build a secure retirement. With that in mind, spend some time defining your retirement.
Having a vision is about more than inspiration – it's the first step in forming a realistic financial plan, including how you plan to turn your savings into retirement income down the road.
When it comes to taking action, the more you focus on things you can control, the better.
You can't control the markets; but you can invest in a well-diversified portfolio that gives you age-appropriate risk exposure.
You can't control the return on your investment, but you can control how much you save – and saving more may be the single biggest action you can take to improve your retirement security.
Take a look at your savings rate. Are you stopping at the company match in your employer's 401(k) plan? Or are you saving the 10% or more that many retirement experts agree should be your target? Are you exploring all the retirement savings vehicles available to you, including IRAs and Roth IRAs?
It's not enough to say you are going to save more – you need to take action. Research from a Harvard economist shows that Out of every 100 employees surveyed, 68 say they aren't saving enough. But only 24 say they will raise their savings rate within the next two years...And only 3 actually follow through.
That's why you need to do what you can to lock in your intention to save more by making it automatic. If you have a 401(k), ask your employer about using auto escalation to increase savings annually. If you use an IRA, set up an automatic transfer from your checking account each payday to "pay yourself first". In many ways retirement is about paying your future self so you can meet your future needs.