How to Calculate Your Retirement Number

The first step to creating a retirement-savings plan is to do some math.

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5. Don't forget Uncle Sam. According to the Michigan Retirement Research Center, married college graduates—people who are otherwise among the most prepared for retirement—often forget to consider just how much of their retirement income will be going to Uncle Sam. Only 3 in 4 people in this group are prepared for retirement after taxes are taken into account; otherwise, 92 percent report being ready.

6. Minimize fees and maximize returns. Investing fees can take a big bite out of returns; the think tank RAND calculates that even just a 1 percentage point difference in annual fees adds up to $3,380 after 10 years on a $20,000 account balance. Check up on the fees you're currently paying and consider moving into index funds or other types of funds with lower fees.

Finding your number might be intimidating, but it can also provide some much-needed motivation to make a retirement savings plan—and stick with it.

Twitter: @alphaconsumer