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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Monday, April 15, 2013

Put savings on auto-pilot to meet your goals



By Clark Howard


Unless you want to keep working forever, you've got to learn how to save more today for your retirement tomorrow.

What percent of Americans contribute to an IRA or Roth IRA? Less than one in four, according to one new survey. Of those that do contribute, what percent put in the annual maximum of $5,000? Almost nobody.

Houston, we've got a problem here.

Do you believe that Social Security will be enough for you to live on in retirement? No way, not any day. So the only rational alternative is this: If you don't save for retirement, you just keep working until you can't anymore. A lot of people will make that choice.

When you think about it, retirement is a very modern concept that has only existed in the world for really the last 140 years. It used to be all through human history that people just worked until they gave out. Boy, that doesn't sound fun to me! I'd like to be able to just hang out when I don't want to work anymore.

But it is a personal preference, as you can see.

Yet if you are under 40, another new survey says you're probably not interested in saving at all. Not good!

Maybe people feel there's no money to save with. If you feel you couldn't possibly do a 401(k) because there's no room for any savings, I want you to start by saving just one percent.

Then, six months from now, bump your contribution up by just another one percent, and do it again in another six months. After five years of that, you'll be saving 10% of your pay before any employer match!

But by doing it just one percent at time, you won't notice the difference in your paycheck because it's all little baby steps.

You can open a Roth IRA at Charles Schwab for as little as $100 or for $1,000 through Vanguard. See my investment guide for more details.