3 of 5
Age: 40s
Age: 40s
Your conundrum:
Too many claims on your paycheck. Even though you're entering your peak earnings years, major expenses like college tuition loom. When the AARP recently asked workers why they didn't save more for retirement, 33% of 45- to 49-year-olds said they were saving for a child's education instead.

Shocking fact:
Only 10% of 401(k) participants in their 40s are saving the full amount allowed under the pretax IRS or plan ceiling. (Worse still: That paltry figure is actually the highest proportion among all age groups.)

Catch-up plan:
Max out your contribution: You're actually benefiting from the stock market's low prices. "Since the underlying investments that mutual funds own are on sale now, you can accumulate shares at a much more rapid pace," says Franklin Templeton's Buckner. Bonus: In 2009 the maximum allowable contribution is being raised to $16,500.

"You can get car loans, you can get college loans, but you can't get retirement loans," says Fidelity's Mike Doshier. So don't dip into your 401(k) for expenses.

Bottom line:
Save as much as you can. If your 401(k) is your main bet for retirement, your savings (including the company match) should equal at least 10% of your income, says Vanguard's Combs.

NEXT: Age: 50s
Last updated December 12 2008: 12:03 PM ET
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