Estimate your retirement expenses. Set yourself an approximate retirement goal by figuring out how much you spend each year and multiplying that by how long you think you will live after retirement. "If you need $40,000 to $50,000 a year to live on, then you have to resign yourself to the fact that you will probably need $1 million for retirement if you are thinking about retiring over 30 years," says Feldman. "People really have to understand that they have to put away serious money in order to meet their retirement goals."
Learn how to maximize your Social Security checks. Social Security benefits provide a nice base for your savings to build on. Get an estimate of how much you can expect to receive in retirement from your annual Social Security statement or by using the Social Security Administration's retirement estimator tool. Factor in that Social Security payouts will increase for each year you delay signing up between ages 62 and 70.
Don't inflate your lifestyle. If you're fortunate enough to get a raise next year, consider diverting some of that money into your retirement account. "Any time you get a promotion, that is a great time to set some money aside and make the best use of it before it just becomes part of your current lifestyle," says McNary. "It's much easier to do it that way than to try to scale back later."
Eliminate unnecessary expenses. You will be able to get by with less money in retirement if you eliminate as many costs as possible before you leave your job, including mortgage principal and interest payments, credit card debt, and car loans. Upon retirement, also consider relocating to a lower-cost area of the country and curbing one of your cars.
Plan your new life. Start dreaming about things you would like to do after you leave your job. Travel, hobbies, volunteer work, and even some form of continued work are all generally a part of the retirement years. "People should plan that their retirement is going to include some type of part-time work," says Gilbert. "It stretches your retirement budget, challenges you physically and mentally, and it gives you something to fill up your days."