Executive Summary

Defined contribution plans, such as 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts (IRAs), often provide important sources of income in retirement. Understanding how to maximize these plans and how financial decisions may affect retirement preparedness will help you identify steps to take so that you are on track.

Key Points

  • Save 15% - A rough rule of thumb is you should contribute 15% of gross household income into your retirement plans to maintain your lifestyle in retirement.
  • Look for places to save more and spend less - Reviewing spending in detail coupled with a discussion about priorities and strategies could reveal some opportunities and surprises. Additional money can come from better management of credit card debt, how you pay for children’s education, employer matches on 401(k)s, paying yourself first, and the power of compound interest.
  • Set up your asset allocation to balance short-term and longer-term needs - Asset allocation is your mix of stocks, bonds, cash, and any other choices, such as real estate or alternative investments. We believe assets that one needs to draw upon should be in safer investments, such as cash or certain types of bonds.
  • Working longer has several benefits - In cases where it is not feasible to accumulate the entire needed amount for retirement, you may choose to work longer, giving yourself more time to contribute, more time for the assets to accumulate, fewer years your retirement assets will need to support you, and the ability to delay Social Security.


It’s never too soon to start planning for retirement. A good review of your personal finances may reveal you can accumulate more than you think. Having the appropriate asset allocation aligned to your individual goals and situation can help you have the security you seek and reach your retirement goals.


Strategies for Reaching Your Retirement Goals