6 Retirement Resolutions to Make in 2011

Try these painless ways to improve your retirement finances this year.

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The New Year often sparks new goals and resolutions. With so many improvements we can make in our lives, retirement can often be forgotten until later in the year when money is again at the forefront of our minds. This year, let's change that up a bit by working on our retirement savings in January. As you set financial goals for the new year, here are 6 resolutions that will kick-start your retirement finances in the right direction.

[See 10 Key Retirement Ages to Plan For.]

Save a bit more. The most significant behavior that leads to a comfortable retirement is our savings rate. It doesn't matter how much we are already saving, because the more, the better. If you need more ways to save, check out these 20 frugal family winter activities. This year, make an effort to save 1 percent more of your salary towards retirement.

Reduce investment fees. The more you are paying other people, the less you have for yourself. Examine your investments and find lower cost alternatives without sacrificing diversity. With the invention of ETFs and the increased popularity of index funds, making the switch should be easy.

Increase 401(k) contributions. A good portion of U.S. employees should get a raise in 2011. This means more money in each paycheck. But if you allocate that raise toward your 401(k), you won't miss it one bit.

[See 10 Sneaky New Retirement Costs.]

Learn about investment choices. Most people can save themselves money by reading about the basics. From widely known magazines to free information on the web, investment advice is readily available for us. Read up. And even if you don't learn anything new, the reminder will help you take more prudent action.

Review your asset allocation. It's probably been a few years since you examined your investment allocation and situations change. The process actually doesn't take that long, so take a moment to review what you have. If you have been saving diligently, it could actually be fun to know exactly how much you own.

[See 9 Ways to Save More Money for Retirement.]

Make sure your estate plan is in order. It's hard to imagine something bad happening. But no matter how small the chances are, making sure everything is in order in case of an accident is the smart thing to do. Appoint a person to make medical decisions for you in case you’re unable to and set up a plan for your assets to make sure your heirs are taken care of. If not for yourself, do it for your family.

David Ning runs MoneyNing, a personal finance site aimed at helping others change their habits for a better financial future. He suggests that everyone to sign up for an online savings account to get more out of our hard earned money.