Want to get a fright? Check out an online retirement calculator and see just how close you are to having enough saved for your golden years. If the answer’s not nearly enough, don’t panic — it’s not too late to start planning now.

Want to get a fright? Check out an online retirement calculator and see just how close you are to having enough saved for your golden years. If the answer’s not nearly enough, don’t panic — it’s not too late to start planning now.


In your 20s: Contemplating the end of your career when you’re just starting may seem crazy, but counting on Social Security to be there 20 years from now, let alone 40 or 50, may be a fool’s risk.


The reality is, retirement planning needs to begin as early as possible, advises money-zine.com, an online financial planning guide. 


That said, setting retirement goals now may not be realistic, especially with student loans to pay off and the potential for marriage and mortgages on the horizon. In lieu of that, experts say, the best bet is to sink as much money as you can into employer-sponsored 401(k) and 403(b) plans, particularly if the company offers a match. If that’s not an option, set up an Individual Retirement Account.


In your 30s: Nine out of 10 people in their 30s are in debt, the highest proportion of any age decade, according to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances.


Now’s the time to take a serious look at credit card debt and to start living within a budget, writes Liz Pulliam Weston, a financial writer for MSN Money and author of “Your Credit Score: Your Money & What’s at Stake.”


It’s important to realize that money invested in this period will work twice as hard as money invested when you’re in your 50s, experts say.


In your 40s: If you’ve been saving money for the past 10 or 20 years, this is a good point at which to determine whether you need to readjust your plan, experts advise. If you haven’t, don’t wait any longer, because there are only 20 to 25 years left to start socking cash away.


“With all the other claims on your paychecks, it can be tempting to skimp here,” writes Pulliam Weston. “But every dollar you fail to put aside now could mean $10 less in retirement income.”


Things to consider: Don’t put yourself in huge debt paying college tuition bills, and pay down as much debt as possible, Pulliam Weston writes.


In your 50s: If you’ve reached this point and haven’t started planning, this is really your last chance to start, investment experts say. Presumably, people in this bracket may be close to paying off their mortgage, have gotten their children through college and may now have money to sink into a plan.


“You’re also close enough to the finish line now that you should begin to make definite plans about where you’ll live, what you’ll do and how much money you’ll spend” in retirement, Pulliam Weston writes.