"If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." ............ Ben Franklin
"If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." ............ Ben Franklin
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You Can't Fake This - Stop Guessing, Hoping, And Procrastinating!

The number one rule of retirement planning - Do Something!

It may not be a task that's at the top of your  to-do list, but it should be. Yes, it can be complex and confusing. Yes, it can be tedious to gather all of the information you need to do it correctly (in reasonable detail). Yes, you will need to try to predict the future (an exercise in frustration). Sounds exhausting already! But look at it this way, an hour or two of your time now could save you from years of serious struggle later on.

Every moment you're guessing, hoping, and procrastinating is adding risk to coming up with a successful plan. You made be able to afford a little risk at a young age (25 - 35), but as you get closer to retirement (closer means 10-15 years away) the risk increases exponentially because saving money, and having invested amounts earn interest/dividends/capital gains, takes time.

Most people can only afford to save a fixed amount each month/year, and can't make up for lost time by deciding to all of a sudden start saving twice as much. At a young age, time is your friend. Over ~40, time starts becoming your enemy. The earlier you start planning/saving, the less pressure there is on how much you need to save because you have time on your side.

Here's an example you've probably seen many times before, but it's worth repeating:

Start saving $3,600/year ($300/month, or $70/week) at age 30, earning 5%/year (reasonable), and you will have $240,000 at age 60. Save the same amount starting at age 40, and you will end up with ~ $128,000. Roughly 1/2 as much even though you're saving for 2/3 as long.  Start at age 50, and you'll only have ~$50,000. The impact of starting late(r) is clear.

Imagine if you started saving $300/month at age 30, and doubled that amount every 10 years as your salary grew ($600/month at age 40, and $1,200/month at age 50). You would end up with ~$470,000. It would be even more if you grew the amount saved slowly over that time rather than taking big jumps at ages 40 and 50.  You get the point - start saving whatever you can as soon as possible, do it consistently, and add to it when possible.Please, don't wait to figure all this out any longer!

No matter what your age is (even 25 - 35 years old), or what your salary is, or how much you're currently saving, you must have a written retirement plan. It can, and will, change as you go along, but you need to establish goals, and a firm idea of what it will take to achieve them. You wouldn't climb a mountain, or hike into a forest, or drive cross country without having a destination in mind - or at least exploring a map of possible routes to take. A retirement plan is your financial map, and your ability to retire is a far more serious trip. You only get one chance to get it right, so not having any plan at all is very risky, and not likely to end well. Just like traveling, planning for retirement is an adventure with plenty of unknowns, but having a Plan A, and a Plan B, will help you to safely navigate through decades of variables.

That's the most important retirement planning advice you'll ever hear. Just do something to make sure that you have a plan. "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” - Ben Franklin

Next time - a word about finding the right tools for the job.

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