Are You Saving Enough For Your Golden Years?


Are You Saving Enough For Your Golden Years?

Find Out With A New Online Tool
By Suzanne Martin

If you’re afraid you’ll be scavenging for pennies during your retirement years, you’re not alone.

The 2008 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) conducted by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) told a scary story. It found that:

  • The percentage of workers who are very confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement decreased sharply, from 27 percent in 2007 to 18 percent in 2008, the biggest one-year drop in the 18-year history of the RCS.
  • Older workers tend to have saved more than younger workers, but overall savings levels tend to be modest. Forty-nine percent of workers report less than $25,000 in total savings and investments (excluding their homes and any pensions).
But that’s just part of the story.

On a positive note, the survey found that about half of workers (47 percent) say they have tried to calculate how much money they’ll need for a comfortable retirement.

And the survey revealed that doing a retirement savings calculation is particularly effective at changing savings behavior: Forty-four percent who calculated a goal changed their retirement planning, and of those almost two-thirds (59 percent) started saving or investing more.

The moral of the whole story? Figure out how much you need to save for those golden years. It’s easier than you think with a new online tool from the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA).

EBSA, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, now offers an online version of its guide “Taking the Mystery Out of Retirement Planning.” EBSA published the 62-page guide several years ago. It included a number of worksheets to help users calculate how much they needed to save for retirement. Now those interactive worksheets are available at the EBSA Web site.

You simply fill in figures for your assets, savings and investments, and then let the computers at the Department of Labor handle the heavy lifting.

The worksheets ask you for information such as:
  • Age at which you expect to retire
  • Current dollar amounts in retirement, savings and investment accounts
  • Amounts you’re saving each month in different accounts
  • Expected Social Security and pension benefits at retirement
  • Current home value
  • Current home mortgage
With that and other information you provide, the system calculates your post-retirement assets and gives you an estimated monthly income for your retirement years. You then complete an expenses worksheet and presto! You can see the anticipated financial status for your retirement years.

The Web site offers explanations and guidance throughout the process. It also lets you change assumptions such as the rate of return on your savings and investments.

Best of all, you can store your data and change your numbers. Simply register at the site with a user name and password; no other identifying information is requested.

If you’ve been intimated by other online retirement calculators, don’t let that stop you from trying this one. It’s straightforward, and navigation is easy. If you haven’t yet put your retirement numbers together, start here.

Whether you’re 12 months or 12 years from retirement, this resource helps make retirement planning much less painful.

Get started at Click on “Publications/Reports,” then on “Taking the Mystery Out of Retirement Planning.” From there you can go directly to the interactive worksheets or download a PDF of the fully-illustrated 62-page guide.


Suzanne Martin is a contributing editor for Self-Employed. She thinks she should save more for retirement.

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