Understand the Science of Saving for the Future

Saving for the future is hard, so advisors encourage long-term thinking.

A look at chronic savers who stockpile cash while forgoing everything from food to doctor visits
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Stock index funds are a way to at least match the long-term performance of equities. But Rogers says that for the long-term investor, a mix of income and equity funds provides steadier returns than pure equity funds. He also recommends putting long-term savings on automatic deduction plans so you aren't tempted to make an untimely pullout. Target-date funds, which are set to alter their holdings over time to match a person's needs as they move closer to retirement, usually provide appropriate diversification that minimizes risks and provides steady long-term returns.

"Check under the hood. Each target fund is different," Rogers says. "See how it matches your goals. You could even use one for a college fund, depending on how it is set up." And once you've taken time to study what the fund offers, he says, stay invested so you get the time value of the money you've saved.