Personal Finance > Ask the Expert
The dream of retirement
Is it just a pipe-dream for 40-somethings like myself? How can I start a retirement plan?
April 23, 2004: 12:35 PM EDT
By Walter Updegrave, CNN/Money contributing columnist

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NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - A lot of articles question whether 40-somethings like myself will have enough in our retirement accounts to be able to retire comfortably. Is the dream of retirement less achievable than it was in the past? And how can I start a retirement plan?

-- Gary, Buffalo, New York

I don't think there's any doubt that the retirement landscape has shifted dramatically over the past decade or so.

The old world where you could count on Social Security and a traditional company pension for a comfy retirement has given way to a new era where the security of your retirement depends directly on how much you save through 401(k)s, IRAs and other accounts and on how wisely you invest your money.

Still an achievable dream?

But does that mean the dream of retirement is less achievable? I don't think so.

The latest book by Walter Updegrave  
The latest book by Walter Updegrave

Granted, the onus is now on each of us individually to take charge of our retirement planning and to effectively create our own retirement. But that's certainly possible for those of us who really want to do it.

Indeed, that's the whole point of my new book, "We're Not In Kansas Anymore: Strategies for Retiring Rich In A Totally Changed World". The tools and strategies that can lead to a secure and comfortable retirement are out there. The key is knowing how to use them.

Getting started

So, what should you do to get started toward achieving a comfortable retirement? Well, I can't lay out an entire retirement plan in the space of a column.

But I can refer you to a list of 10 steps I created that someone like you -- or for that matter anyone serious about taking responsibility for his or her retirement -- can follow in order to the dream of retirement dream into reality. To read my "10 Steps To A Successful Retirement," click here.

I certainly don't want to underestimate the challenge we all face today in planning for retirement. But I think it would be a grave mistake to let doomsayers' dire predictions discourage us from doing all we can to accumulate the resources we'll need to draw on when we retire.

So don't dwell on potential difficulties. Instead, focus your effort into saving and investing for your future. The more you do that, the better your retirement will be.

Walter Updegrave is a senior editor at MONEY Magazine and is the author of "We're Not in Kansas Anymore: Strategies for Retiring Rich in a Totally Changed World." He also answers viewers' questions on CNNfn's Money & Markets at 4:40 PM on Mondays.  Top of page

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