The Top 10 Ways to Prepare for Retirement
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Health and Wellness

The Top 10 Ways to Prepare for Retirement

Have you begun planning for retirement? If you're like many Americans, you may not have given it much thought. Here are the top 10 ways to plan ahead for your golden years.

The Top 10 Ways to Prepare for Retirement


Have you started planning for retirement? If not, you're not alone. Only 42 percent of Americans even know how much they need to save. In fact, 25 percent of those who had 401(k) coverage in 2005 didn't even join the plan. Since the average American spends 18 years in retirement, plan ahead so you can be secure in your golden years.

Take the following steps to plan ahead:

  1. Know your retirement needs. Retirement is expensive. Experts estimate that you'll need to save about 70 percent to 90 percent of your present income.
  2. Find out about your Social Security benefits. Social Security pays about 40 percent of your pre-retirement earnings. Learn more about your benefits by calling 1-800-772-1213.
  3. Learn about your employer's pension or profit-sharing plan. If your employer offers a plan, check to see what your benefit is worth. Your employer should give you a statement if you ask for one. Before you change jobs, find out what will happen to your pension. Learn what benefits you may have from a former job. See if you will be entitled to benefits from your spouse's plan.
  4. Contribute to a tax-sheltered savings plan. If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, contribute all you can. Your taxes will be lower - and automatic payroll deductions make it easy.
  5. Ask your employer to start a plan. If your employer doesn't offer a retirement plan, ask to have one started.
  6. Put your money into an individual retirement account.You can put up to $4,000 a year into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). You'll also gain tax advantages. When you open an IRA, you have two types of IRAs to choose from. How your contributions and withdrawals are taxed depends on which type you choose.
  7. Don't touch your savings. Don't dip into your retirement savings. You'll lose principal and interest, and you may lose tax benefits. If you change jobs, roll over your savings into an IRA or the retirement plan your new employer offers.
  8. Start now, set goals and stick to them. Start early. Start saving early so your money has time to grow. Make saving a high priority. Have a plan, stick to it and set goals for yourself. Remember, it's never too early or too late to start saving. So start now, whatever your age.
  9. Consider basic investment principles. How you save is as important as how much you save. Inflation and the types of investments you make determine how much you'll save. Know how your pension or savings plan is invested.
  10. Ask questions. Talk to your employer, your bank, your union or a financial advisor. Ask questions and make sure the answers make sense to you. Get practical advice and act now.

Not all veterans have scars you can see. Long after returning home, memories of war can haunt them. Find out how to help a loved one with post-traumatic stress disorder.

About one in seven soldiers returning from Iraq will face serious mental health issues. These include major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A study of troops returning from Iraq shows that the trauma of war remains with them long after coming home. Being shot at, shooting others and witnessing the deaths of fellow troops are ordeals not easily forgotten.

Many of these soldiers fail to get treatment. This is mostly because they fear it will affect their careers. New programs are meant to turn this trend around. Screening for depression and PTSD is becoming routine. However, a soldier may not have symptoms until months after getting home. Family members of returning soldiers need to know the symptoms of PTSD. Seek help for your veteran if he or she does any of the following:

  • Has invasive thoughts, nightmares or flashbacks
  • Tries to avoid thoughts or feelings related to the trauma
  • Feels detached from others and unable to have loving feelings
  • Lacks interest in activities that once were satisfying
  • Feels hopeless
  • Has insomnia
  • Is irritable or angry
  • Has difficulty concentrating
  • Overreacts to being startled

Additional Resources:

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