Make a Plan for Retirement

Making a plan for retirement can be done on your own, but including a professional financial advisor is often worth the fee.

©­iStockphoto.com/Edward Bock


Saving for retirement can be a bit d­ifficult to figure out at first. If you need to get a handle on what you need to do to create a large nest egg, you need to begin with a plan. The U.S. Department of Labor recommends that you start by determining your net worth -- the total value of your assets minus the value of your debts (things like the value of your house minus the value of what you still owe on your mortgage). You want this number to be positive, with your assets worth more than your debts. Don't be disconcerted if that's not the case. Even if you find your net worth is negative (as many people do), start there to figure out what you can do to make it positive.

First, determine what you'll need to contribute to reach your retirement goal. You want a nest egg that can annually deliver between 70 to 90 percent of your pretax, pre-retirement salary. How much will you need to contribute to reach that goal? More importantly, how will you ensure those contributions are made?

Next, you need to create a budget of your recurring expenses and include your savings contributions as a monthly expense. A budget will also clearly show you where your money's going and should also provide some insight into what debts should be dealt with first. Now that a plan's in place, you're going to need to change your mindset in order to stick to it.