The Easy Way to Get Confident About Your Retirement

37342892 - three pink piggy banks standing on books next to a blackboard with retirement savings chart.  sharp focus on the piggy banks.

37342892 – three pink piggy banks standing on books next to a blackboard with retirement savings chart. sharp focus on the piggy banks.

Just start with these basics to point yourself in the right direction.

Imagine trying to take an around-the-globe trip without looking into the details. In essence, that’s what millions of Americans do every day as they ponder retirement. They head out on the journey and hope for the best.

But it usually doesn’t work, and new research from BlackRock points up the futility of thinking about retirement without a plan. Those who describe themselves as unsure about their retirement prospects are far less likely to have taken even basic steps like estimating how much they need to put in the bank to afford the retirement they want.

BlackRock, an asset manager with nearly $5 trillion under management, surveyed participants in 401(k)s and other defined-contribution plans. It found 52% believe they are on track for retirement. Another 28% say they are unsure if they are on track—and many in the unsure camp could gain confidence by taking simple steps.

For example, 66% of those unsure about retirement say they don’t know as much as they should about investing, BlackRock found. That compares to just 38% of those who say they are on track. Likewise, 68% of those who are unsure say they don’t know how much money they will need to fund their retirement. That compares to 32% of those who are on track.

For many, then, moving towards retirement confidence may be a fairly simple matter of learning more and doing some basic math. Just 11% of those who are unsure have even bothered to estimate how much they should be setting aside right now, BlackRock found. That compares to 35% of those who believe they are on track.

This is not string theory. Investing for retirement can be as simple as directing all your assets to a target-date mutual fund. Decoding your savings needs requires some thought. But you can estimate your expenses and figure how much income you will need with an online calculator such as this one from Vanguard.

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