Seven ways to help jumpstart your retirement plan - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Seven ways to help jumpstart your retirement plan

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(ARA) - Everyone knows that they should be putting away money for retirement, but for those who haven't started saving, it can seem like a daunting task. Even though you know you should be saving, it's possible that you haven't gotten around to contributing to your retirement plan because you don't think you have money to spare, or don't know where to start.

While these barriers are certainly real for many people, it's important to jumpstart your plan as quickly as possible, even if you're unsure of where to start. If you find yourself in this situation, Jamie McInnes, senior vice president and chief operating officer of total retirement services for Prudential, offers seven important tips for successful retirement saving.

1. Start saving now
Americans today have more responsibility to save adequately for retirement, to invest their savings appropriately, and to generate a stream of retirement income from those savings. This has contributed to a feeling of insecurity among individuals about their retirement; in fact, only 13 percent of individuals say that they are "very confident" they'll have enough money to provide for a comfortable retirement, according to the 2011 Retirement Confidence Survey from The Employee Benefit Research Institute. But if you haven't been able to begin contributing to your plan, how can you start saving now? Start by setting aside 1 percent of your pay as an initial goal. Determining your retirement income needs can happen later in the process.

2. Establish momentum
Even though many employees may describe themselves as under-savers and say that they plan to rectify this situation in the next few months, for some following through on this plan may be easier said than done. For most retirement savers, increasing your contribution rate each year is a great idea. Start small if you must, but make sure to increase your retirement saving over time.

3. Get real
Figure out how much income you'll need in retirement. It's never too late to figure this out, even if you're in your 40s. Make catch-up contributions to your plan if allowed. Resist the urge to allocate too much to whatever's making money right now - chasing performance may be risky. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. As you get closer to retirement, review your diversification and determine if you want to include a retirement income as part of your portfolio. Keep in mind that application of asset allocation and diversification concepts does not assure a profit or protect against loss in a declining market. It is possible to lose money by investing in securities.

4. Get help
Your benefits administrator or other financial professional can make navigating the options much easier. Many people avoid financial professionals because they believe it's costly or are confident they can make the necessary decisions on their own. But a financial adviser can inject some cold logic into the planning process, and may become even more valuable down the road as you age.

5. Don't let your lifestyle get out of hand
Look for ways to save whenever you can. Make your savings practices as important as your spending decisions.

6. Don't take out a loan
Exhaust all other options before tapping into your retirement account for basic expenses. Taking out loans against your retirement fund is one of the fastest ways to derail a more secure retirement.

7. Investing in your retirement can lead to a healthier you
Having adequate retirement income could lead to a healthier you later in life, potentially offering better access to quality health care and the opportunity to lead a more balanced lifestyle by not needing to delay retirement or work part time to support yourself. And certainly the prospect of outliving one's means and retiring in poverty might produce a level of stress and anxiety that is not conducive to optimum health. Adequately preparing for your future income needs can help provide peace of mind and a greater sense of independence and self-reliance.

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