"For God's sake, do a reality check," says Mari Adam, a financial planner in Boca Raton. "You may find you are doing better than you thought. If not, the sooner you find out, the easier it will be to catch up."
Studies have shown that the very act of planning can improve the odds of financial success. Start by pulling together financial information: your latest 401(k) and bank statements, your estimated Social Security benefit (visit ssa.gov) and your projected pension payout if you're fortunate enough to have one. (Ask your benefits office to run the numbers.)
Then go online to a retirement calculator, such as Fidelity's Retirement Quick Check, which will tell you how much you need to put away each month to give you the retirement income you'll need.
Or you could consult a fee-only financial adviser. (Get referrals at garrettplanningnetwork .com or use the search tool at fpanet.org.) You can also get a rough idea of how much you'll need by checking "Are You on the Bus?" below.
If the numbers look scary, remember, you don't have to stash away whopping sums all at once. And you can continue to work beyond retirement age. But you do have to get moving.