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I've been saving for awhile ...

 

If you've been saving for quite awhile, it may be time to take a fresh look at your retirement plan, review your contribution amount and identify any possible shortages early on. Below is a list to see how your retirement plan is measuring up.


• Have you done a retirement-needs calculation?


Think that conducting a retirement-needs calculation will only lead to despair? You're not alone. However, a recent study found just the opposite - that doing a calculation tends to be a very effective tool in changing behavior in a good way.


In January 2011, the Employee Benefit Research Institute surveyed 1,004 working-age Americans (25 years old and older) and 254 U.S. retirees on their attitudes toward retirement. Although only 42% of those surveyed reported that they had tried to figure the amount of money they would need for a comfortable retirement, the impact of doing the assessment proved dramatic. Here's a snapshot of the results:


•26% reported that they are very confident they will be able to accumulate the amount needed for retirement
•59% started saving or investing more
•19% changed their investment mix
•16% reduced debt or spending
•7% researched other ways to save for retirement.

 

Source: Retirement Confidence Survey

 

Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2011.


• Have you re-evaluated your contribution amount?


Increasing your pre-tax contribution amount will increase your retirement savings and lower your taxable income. In most cases, that means that a modest rise in how much you contribute will not dramatically affect your take-home pay. In fact, if you're contributing to your retirement plan on a pre-tax basis, you might actually save money! The chart below shows how:


• Have you considered other savings strategies?


If you've contributed the maximum amount your retirement plan allows, investigate other retirement savings options. Your plan representative can help you determine what would make the most sense for your personal situation.


• Is it time to adjust your asset allocation?


If you've made several adjustments to your retirement mix, you may be trying to time the market or chase returns - generally, not a wise approach. On the other hand, if you've been investing for a while and have never changed your asset allocation, you may want to rebalance your account so it is in line with your age and any revised retirement objectives.


If an asset re-allocation is not something you want to pursue on your own, think about switching to Target Date funds, which will manage an appropriate asset allocation in your retirement plan based on your retirement age.1


Another option is Managed Accounts, which will manage your investments based on your specific retirement goals and needs.


Your plan representative will be happy to help you assess if it may be time to rebalance your investments.

 

1The principal value of target date funds is not guaranteed at any time, including at or after the target date, which is the approximate date when investors turn age 65. The funds invest in a broad range of underlying mutual funds that include stocks, bonds, and short-term investments and are subject to the risks of different areas of the market. The funds emphasize potential capital appreciation during the early phases of retirement asset accumulation, balance the need for appreciation with the need for income as retirement approaches, and focus more on income and principal stability during retirement. The funds maintain a substantial allocation to equities both prior to and after the target date, which can result in greater volatility.

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