How to plan for a successful retirement

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SARASOTA, Fla. - The NFL referees are back on the field after a lockout over their pensions, but when it comes to retirement, what about the rest of us? Pensions have become a thing of the past, and for most of us these days, they aren't even a possibility. So how can you plan for a successful retirement?

The things many people used to rely on for retirement are no longer an option for most today. “I had an annuity, an IRA, which is a pension qualified plan, and i told the company, because times were getting bad, to give me a monthly check for the next 5 years,” says Michael Capierseho, who is retired with a pension.

And today, working people don't have it easy. “In the 1980's when i was a financial adviser in the Chicago area, it wasn't unusual for people to retire not only with a pension, but perhaps some type of 401k plan. Now, the majority of people retiring are coming in for advice with assets they've saved with their own money,” says Lisa Keverian Press, Managing Director, Baird Private Wealth Management.

She says since pensions are pretty much extinct, people must plan. “They need to save early, save often. Some of the clients who have the most successful retirements, regardless of their profession or income levels ever were, if they lived within or slightly below their means, they made a habit to save regularly and take full advantage of whatever retirement plans their employer offered.”

No matter what you're income may be, Keverian Press says you should make contributions to things like IRA's, Roth IRA's, and even regular investment accounts, and the time to start is now. “History does repeat itself in the financial market, so i wouldn't give up. We're in a period where there's been a lot of volatility, the ability to dollar cost average or save on a regular basis will help remove some of that volatility, but when somebody's young it's hard to think that 60 or 65 will be around the corner, but it happens sooner than you think.”

Keverian Press says it's also important for you to reduce your debt. She says people who are debt free, regardless of how large their portfolio is, have much more successful retirements because they weather financial storms.