Thinking About Retirement Pays Off at Any Age

Watch this ABC News segment on hidden 401(k) fees.

When you hear the “R” word, what comes to mind? Your perspective on retirement planning depends on a lot of things, including your age bracket.

If you’re 50+, you might say:What retirement? My IRA has taken a huge hit, and now I’ll have to work way past 65.” Or, “I’m so behind I don’t even know where to start. I hope Social Security is there when I need it, but I’m worried.”

A 40-something might say: “Retirement? We’re down to one income after the layoff and worried about how we’ll pay our family’s bills as our savings dwindle. And now I’m hearing that 401(k) fees are taking a big chunk out of what we’re putting in.”

A 30-something might say: “Retirement? I’m paying back student loans and trying to save for a home down payment, and it’s taking forever with my rent and car expenses. Maybe I’ll move in with my parents for a while.” (Parents shudder.)

A 20-something might say: “Retirement? I can’t believe they still take Social Security out of my paycheck. There’s no way any of that will come back to me. And why should I bother putting money aside now? Retirement is such a long way off – does it really matter?” (It does.)

Bottom line: It’s never too late or too early to start thinking about retirement planning.

This month you’ll see a lot from AARP about this important issue – from myths and challenges, to making the most of your 401(k) and tools to know what you’re paying in fees, to the future of Social Security (hint: input wanted) and when to start claiming, to what an ideal retirement means for you. There’s even a free webinar on that topic on Tuesday, June 12.

Would winning $50,000 for your nest egg make you want to learn more? If you’re 45 or older, enter the AARP $50,000 Retirement Trivia Challenge (daily winners too).

Need to work longer than you thought? Join the club. Check out job-hunting resources if you’re dealing with a mid-life layoff or want to change careers, and learn about employers who value 50+ workers.

Here’s to starting where you are when it comes to retirement planning, regardless of age. Above all, don’t beat yourself up or think, “If only I had…” Nothing good will come of that. Instead, pay it forward. Encourage the 20- and 30-somethings in your life to learn what’s in it for them by thinking about retirement sooner rather than later. They may even thank you…someday.

 If you’re on Twitter, follow @AARPMoney for money, work and retirement resources, news and information.