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How Americans Can Catch Up to Retirement

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Americans aren't planning for retirement, and that may be costing them more than they think—up to four times as much. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.

Americans aren't saving nearly enough for retirement. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, six out of 10 workers have less than $25,000 squirreled away, not including the value of their home.

Of course, the question of how much one will need to retire comfortably can only be answered on a case-by-case basis.

Jon Stein of Betterment.com says a good rule of thumb is eight times your pre-retirement income, but he's not surprised American workers are falling short of that goal.

"It's really hard to save. It's hard to think about the future. We're just not good at it, and that's gotten us into the situation of where we are, where we have a lot of people who haven't saved enough," Stein says.

Obviously, the sooner you start saving, the better, since that money will have more time to grow.

"Every dollar you save in your 30s and 40s is worth four times as much as a dollar you save in your 60s," Stein says.

But even if you are in your 50s, there's still time to make up for lost time. The key is to save as much as you can, as long as you can.

"Max out the 401K at work every single year. Open an IRA if you don't have one and set aside some additional funds," Stein says.

There are also strategies you can employ to supplement your savings. For one, put off collecting Social Security. While you're eligible to start collecting at 62, if you wait until you reach the full retirement age of 67, or even longer, your monthly check will be substantially bigger.

To compare your estimated social security income at various ages, visit ssa.gov.

Meanwhile, Betterment has a calculator on their site that helps clients determine how much they can safely spend in retirement without running the risk of running out of money.

If that amount isn't enough to live on, you might just have to keep working, or make cuts that could change your standard of living. Tough choices, but Stein says one way or another, choices have to be made.

"We have to do the hard work now or we have to do the hard work later. You can save earlier in life or you can work in retirement. Those are the options," Stein says.

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