There are those things that we struggle to find a use for, but money is rarely one of them. Most of us have wants and needs like paying for housing, clothes, food, transportation, and leisure activities. Fulfillment of these usually means that saving takes a backseat. In fact, statistics show that Americans are notorious for being poor savers, even when it comes to retirement saving.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute, which is a nonprofit organization studying employee benefit and economic security issues, recently conducted their 2010 Retirement Confidence Survey on retired and working-age Americans. The survey found that only about 16% of workers feel very comfortable with their retirement savings. Whereas, nearly half of workers responded that they are not too confident (24%) or not at all confident (22%) that they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement.

Let's look at some of the most commonly reported barriers to saving for retirement years:

I Lack the Income to Save for Retirement. Twenty percent of those questioned in a survey performed for the Transamerica Center for Retirement Savings said they lacked the money to participate in their employer's retirement plan or save beyond it. While budgets are no doubt tight nowadays, the majority of people do have a few extra dollars in their monthly budget. The Retirement Confidence Survey found that 54% of those not saving and 72% of those currently saving said they could afford an additional $20 of retirement savings each week. While $20 may not seem like a lot, even the smallest amount of savings can accumulate over time. For example, someone that's 30-years-old and saving just $80 every month in a retirement fund earning 6% interest will have a $114,000 retirement egg by the time they reach age 65.

I've Become Too Old to Start Saving for Retirement. Because a significant portion of retirement funding growth comes from the amount of time that savings can earn, the most prudent attitude toward retirement savings is the earlier the better. That said, you're never too old or too late to start saving for retirement. Let's say you make an investment of just $5,000 in a fund with an interest rate of 6% when you're 50-years-old. Even without contributing another penny, by the time you're 65-years-old, you'll have $12,000 in the fund. Some getting started late may also get a break from the government, as the federal government now allows certain retirement plan participants that are 50-years-old and older to make catch-up contributions that are tax-deferred.

There's No Need for Me to Save a Lot When I'll Have a Pension or Social Security Benefit. According to most financial experts, retirees need a minimum of 70% of their pre-retirement income to maintain a pre-retirement lifestyle. Despite an apparent need for targeted personal retirement savings, many overvalue pension and government sources of income and assume such will adequately finance their retirement. The Retirement Confidence Survey found that over half the respondents falsely assumed unreduced Social Security benefit eligibility at an earlier age than actuality. Those born prior to 1938 are the only individuals that can start to receive unreduced benefits at age 65. The full retirement age then scales upwardly, gradually reaching age 67 for individuals born in or after 1960. Government statistics indicate that workplace-based benefit pension plans only cover around 20% of all employees in the private sector, yet over half of the Retirement Confidence Survey respondents said they anticipated receiving money from such pension plans.

I'll Never Retire, Delay Retirement, Or Work Part-Time. Some may think they don't need a lot of savings because they're planning on one of the above scenarios. However, even the best laid plans don't always go accordingly. The Retirement Confidence Survey showed 37% of respondents exited their job earlier than expected because of disability, health problems, or their employer downsizing or closing.

The bottom line is that planning and saving are necessary components to a comfortable retirement. Don't forget that even if all you can make are small steps, each step is one closer to a financially secure retirement.

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