The secret to a successful retirement

(MoneyWatch) When it comes to planning a successful retirement, don't waste time comparing the "haves" with the "havenots." It's a better use of your time to compare the "dids" with the "didnots." And here's what you're likely to find: Those who did plan for retirement are more likely to be the "haves," and those who did not plan for retirement are more likely to be the "havenots."

Let's just look at one of the many surveys that demonstrate this conclusion. According to the 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), only 42 percent of all workers report that they've tried to calculate how much money they'll need in retirement. Another 42 percent reported that they guessed at the number, but often, they guess way too low. The people who report that they've calculated the amount of money they need have more realistic savings goals, report higher savings levels, and are more confident about their retirement.

But enough about numbers. Pictures often work better than words when inspiring people to do what they need to do. So here goes.

iStockphoto

What inspired me to show these somewhat goofy photos? Behavioral finance research that shows savings decisions are often made for emotional reasons, not logical ones, and that images can speak to your emotional side better than facts and figures.

So if you're inspired to take the time to do the job right, check out my free online retirement planning guide Money for Life. It organizes posts I've written as well as some from other CBS MoneyWatch bloggers on a variety of topics, including Social Security, Medicare, investing, and strategies you can use to generate retirement income. It also contains a 12-week planning guide that leads you through the necessary steps to planning for your retirement.

4 moves to make you confident of your retirement
Retirement planning: How to do it right

With a subject as serious as this, it's worth repeating the old adage: Nobody plans to fail, but many people fail to plan. Don't let this happen to you.

  • Steve Vernon On Twitter»

    View all articles by Steve Vernon on CBS MoneyWatch»
    Steve Vernon helped large employers design and manage their retirement programs for more than 35 years as a consulting actuary. Now he's a research scholar for the Stanford Center on Longevity, where he helps collect, direct and disseminate research that will improve the financial security of seniors. He's also president of Rest-of-Life Communications, delivers retirement planning workshops and authored Money for Life: Turn Your IRA and 401(k) Into a Lifetime Retirement Paycheck and Recession-Proof Your Retirement Years.

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Market Data

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Market News

Stock Watchlist