5 Prudent Life Choices for a Secure Retirement

Your career decisions and lifestyle significantly impact your ability to retire well.

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There are all kinds of ways to secure a comfortable retirement. Our career choices, lifestyle, and savings and investment decisions all influence our ability to retire well. There are lots of prudent steps we can take to guarantee ourselves stability when we finally call it quits. Here are five habits to ingrain into your life now to avoid regrets later in life.

Maintain a healthy contribution rate. A huge deciding factor of whether you can retire comfortably lies in how much you can save over your lifetime. Obviously, living below your means is key, which takes commitment and discipline for most people. Forget trying to save just 10 percent of your income, because you will only be getting by in retirement with that percentage. Save as much as you can, and then save some more. Don't worry about saving too much, because you can always inflate your lifestyle at any point easily.

Be careful to avoid taxes as much as possible. Taxes can take a huge bite out of your investment returns if you aren't careful. At the very least, know the tax treatment of all your investments so you can allocate them into an account that will minimize the tax bite. Donate your money to Uncle Sam if you choose to, but don't unknowingly give him more than he requires.

Don't be oblivious to your income potential. Passion certainly plays a role in how satisfied you will be in your career. But the reality is that working in certain industries will give you a higher chance of earning a higher income. Sit down and do an honest assessment of your chosen field. Do you have the ability or potential to strike it big in your current profession? Will a career change be better for you economically and emotionally? Carefully balance your interests, desire, and economic realities as you assess your career situation.

Avoid costly investment mistakes. Some investment moves are simple and logical to make, such as avoiding expensive investments. Others, like having the stomach to stay the course at times of crisis, aren’t so easy. Those who arm themselves with investment knowledge will be the best equipped to stay invested when times are rough, because they likely prepared themselves mentally for stock market dips before they happen.

Have a retirement plan. A retirement plan allows you to prepare a retirement savings and investing strategy. This plan will also let you know whether you are on the right track, potentially helping you sleep better at night because you won't be worrying needlessly about how you are progressing. Getting a plan started is actually easier than you might think. The hardest part is making the commitment to get one going. However long you end up taking for this task, it sure beats spending countless hours not knowing what to do.

David Ning runs MoneyNing, a personal finance site that shares money moves you can make to significantly increase your chances of having a comfortable retirement. He likes to share simple changes that anyone can make, such as picking the best online savings account and figuring out whether a 0 percent balance transfer credit card makes sense.