Retirement may seem light years away, but it will come faster than you know it. If you’re not prepared, you may find yourself out of work and out of money. Never fear!

Your younger years it the perfect time to start thinking about, and preparing for your retirement.

Here are 10 things you can do to start preparing for your retirement starting now.

1. Avoid Debt

Debt can be an everlasting sink hole. Once you are in it, it is difficult to get out. Monthly charges and ever-growing interest continues to add to your debt. If you currently do not have any debt, keep up the good work and continue to stay away from it. If you do have debt, start making your way out of it. Start paying of your debt, account by account, until you have squashed all of it. Whatever extra money you have should go toward your debt to help pay it off quicker. (Read: How to Avoid Debt)

2. Make Money

Sounds obvious right? Unfortunately, many younger people don’t make as much as older folks. Luckily, the younger you are, the more room you have to grow and expand. If you continue to work hard, you can raise your income so that by the time you retire, you will have quite a bit of money saved up.

3. Create A Plan For When You Retire

Do you plan on working part time? Do you know what you are going to do to supplement your retirement fund if you should need to? Many Americans are now expecting to retire later due to their financial situations. Some of them plan to come up with alternative means of income, while others consider moving to areas that have lower living costs when they finally retire. To avoid having to make alternative arrangements, carefully craft a plan for your retirement.

4. Get a 401(k)

A 401(k) is great way to save up for retirement. Many employers offer their employees 401(k) accounts, and even contribute to it for them. If you are currently employed and do not have a 401(k), check with your employer or Human Resources department to find out how you can sign up for one and start saving. If you are not currently employed, make sure you sign up for it as soon as you do land a job. That way your savings contribution will be automatically deducted from your paycheck. This is a great approach because if you never see the money in your checking, you will not be tempted to use it.

5. Don’t Take Money From Your Retirement Fund!

Although tempting, resist pulling money out of your 401(k). One of the most common reasons that people take from their 401(k) is to pay off debt. Doing this will incur penalties and fees, and it also means you will be taking away from your precious retirement money.

6. Open An IRA

When you are younger and are in a lower tax bracket is the best time to open a Roth IRA. The money that you invest in your IRA is after taxes so you will not have to pay taxes on any earnings you make.

7. Open A Brokerage Account

After you have contributed to your 401(k) and your Roth IRA, if you still have some extra funds, consider opening a taxable stock brokerage account. Investing in stocks can make you a lot of money in one shot, but be careful – you can also lose a lot of money too. Start by investing in low fee index funds and branch out from there.

8. Acquire Assets

But make sure that they are assets that can produce income. Rather than buying a new car that will just go down in value as the years go by, put your money into something that will actually make you money. Look into dividends and stocks, or even buy a house.

9. Look For Lower Fees

Take a close look at the accounts and investments you hold, and see how much you are paying in fees. Annual fees can vary greatly. When you are dealing with big sums of money, even a 1 percent difference can mean thousands of dollars a year. If your funds come with high fees, do some shopping around to see if you can find something that is comparable in terms, but with lower fees.

10. Do The Math

When you are still young is the best time to start crunching numbers. Many, many people grossly under estimate just how much money they will need once they retire and no long make a steady income. This leaves them scrambling for more money, going back to work or having to figure out more cost effective living arrangements. There are calculators available online that can help you determine just how much you will need to save in order to live the life you want to when you retire. Brokerage firms and banks may also have calculators that will take into account your investments and funds. When you crunch your numbers, make sure you experiment with different rates: tax rates, interest rates and inflation rates can fluctuate and you want to be prepared in case they do.

It is never too early to start preparing for your retirement. If done correctly, you can ensure a comfortable and financially supported way of life during your golden years. Start by following these 10 tips to be on your way to a secure future.

Are you ready for retirement? Share your personal experience with our readers.

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