Retirement planning: How to get started now

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Retirement is typically one of everyone's top financial goals. It might be the furthest out, but any good financial plan starts with calculating how much money you'll need during your retirement years.

Many financial planners believe you'll need about 80 percent of your peak pre-retirement income to maintain your current lifestyle in retirement.

If your peak income is $100,000, then you might need $80,000 or more each year. Multiply that figure by your expected years in retirement and that's your target.

Given today's life expectancies, you could be nearing the $1.5 million to $2 million range. Don't let those numbers scare you. Everyone is different.

Time is your friend when saving for retirement. Setting aside even a small amount each month can add up over time.

One effective strategy is to use traditional retirement vehicles, such as an employer-sponsored 401(k) or Individual Retirement Account (IRA), and set up automatic contributions.

While each of these types of accounts has unique rules, all offer tax benefits that can add up over the long term. Even if nearing retirement, it's not too late. If you are 50 or older, "catch-up contributions" help pre-retirees stash even more money into their 401(k) or IRA.

How should you allocate your money? How you decide to allocate the money you've accumulated - and the goal-related products you choose - are probably the most critical factors when it comes to creating a retirement plan.

As mentioned, there are IRAs for retirement goals, as well as guaranteed lifetime income products, but, depending on your life stage you might want to consider other solutions as well.

Maybe that means permanent life insurance to help protect your family's financial security and to use as an effective estate planning tool.

Diversification can help you balance the risk. Diversification can be summed up in one phrase: Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Regardless of what types of retirement solutions you choose, don't bet your retirement nest egg on just one. The types of products you select will vary depending on several factors, including your risk tolerance and retirement time horizon.

These two factors work hand in hand. The more years you have left until retirement, the higher your risk tolerance might be.

Luke Gawronski, a financial planner with Barnum Financial Group, is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. lgawronski@barnumfg.com

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