Retirement planning is an "important" but not "urgent" endeavor that often gets put on the back burner, delayed for a less busy time. That less busy time often never comes. Like many tasks, the earlier you start, the easier it is to achieve.
There are three main sources of available income during retirement:
Company or Government Pensions
Personal savings (IRAs, 401(k) plans, etc.)
Unfortunately, many older workers who did not save adequately for retirement, or earn a pension, have only option 1 available to them when they retire or can no longer work. The average social security check in June of 2021 was approximately $1,550 per month or $18,600 per year.
The percentage of American workers covered by pensions continues to fall as only governments and some of the very largest companies still offer them. And even if they are offered, you must remain an employee for decades to qualify.
This leaves personal savings as the primary vehicle for retirement planning for the typical American. Accumulating enough savings requires planning, belt-tightening, and discipline.
Success is more likely if the following three rules are followed:
Start early and allow stock market returns to work for you — in the long-term.
If possible, save beyond what your 401(k) allows — in some cases, maxing out your 401(k) may not be enough.
Invest wisely — utilize asset allocation and rebalancing. If you don't know how, ask for help from an investment advisor.