Putting a retirement plan in place makes sense for everyone – no matter what step of your life you're at. The depth and detail of that retirement plan is obviously not going to be the same for a 25-year-old as it would be for a 55-year-old. Here's an overview of what a retirement plan can do for you depending on your "Steps"* in life.
The "first-step" years – if you're in your 20s, you may just be getting out of school and establishing yourself in the workforce. Retirement is the last thing you're considering right now, especially if you have student loans. Your retirement plan can be as simple as taking two "baby" steps that can really pay off:
The "step to it" years – without a doubt, your 30s are the toughest years to keep step with a retirement plan. This time of your life can be financially challenging. You have many expenses – mortgage, day care, and car payment. It seems like your money comes in and goes out just as fast. In your mind, retirement still seems far away. However, the most important thing you can do is "step to it" and keep up with the saving habit you established in your 20s. If at this point, you haven't started saving for retirement, it's definitely time to take your first step!
The "step it up" years – in your 40s and 50s, your salary increases based on the skills, knowledge and experience you gain through your working years. At the same time, you'll likely make significant progress with your mortgage. These are the years to "step it up", take advantage of your increasing income and aggressively save for retirement.
Now is also the time to put a more accurate retirement plan in place. Consider writing down your retirement plan(s); create a budget and complete an annual review to keep on track.
The "just a step away" years – in your 50s and 60s, retirement is close and celebrations are near! At this step of your life, you can make definite after work arrangements, pick a date for leaving work and complete a final review to make sure your savings are in place to make your retirement happen.
*These life steps will not represent everyone, but can give a general overview of how someone's retirement plans may evolve and refine over time.