Taking action isn’t always easy

 Did your mother ever tell you to do something because "it's good for you." Getting them to move from acknowledgment to action isn't always easy. Much like saying “don’t stick out your tongue.”

Did your mother ever tell you to do something because “it’s good for you.” Getting them to move from acknowledgment to action isn’t always easy. Much like saying “don’t stick out your tongue.”

Did your mother ever say to you should do something because “It’s good for you.” I know I’ve said that on more than a few occasions to my three kids. Whether it was “Eat your vegetables,” “Get some exercise” or “Do your homework”- getting them to move from acknowledgement – (“Ok, Mom we’ve heard that before”) to taking action wasn’t easy or automatic. Sometimes I even got the eye roll.

Well, when I reviewed the recent results of our Wells Fargo survey of middle-class Americans about their views around savings and retirement, I noticed a similar theme. Most agree that saving for retirement is important, but doing something about it doesn’t happen easily.

More than half of those between ages 40-60 said, “I know I should save for retirement, but I can’t seem to do it.” Maybe that’s why nearly four in 10 of that age group said, “I’ll never be able to retire, I will be working until I die or am too sick to work.” So they know that saving is good for them but their picture of retirement sure is depressing. How can they move from acknowledgement to action? They need a plan! Our survey had some encouraging findings for those who said they have a written plan for retirement. While only three in 10 said they have a plan, that group had saved three times more toward their retirement goal than those without a plan. Those results were across income levels—for those making $25,000 as well as those at $100,000. A plan provides a roadmap on how to reach your retirement goal. If you don’t have a plan, what’s your reason? The top two reasons our survey respondents gave for not having a plan were, “I have too few assets” and “I don’t know how.” So if we know a plan makes a big difference (read – it’s good for you), let’s address those two obstacles. Don’t have enough assets? Everyone can benefit from a plan, whatever your income. The sooner you start saving, the better. Don’t know how? Go online and spend a few minutes using a simple tool like the Wells Fargo My Retirement Plan.

Need further proof a plan is good for you? Those survey respondents in their 30s were most likely of all the age groups to have a plan- and they were savings 6% annually versus other ages saving an average of 5%. In addition, the 30-somethings estimated they would need a nest egg of $500,000 versus those ages 40 and older, who estimated needing $200,000. The 30-somethings are more realistic and get it.

So do you have any examples of advice you’ve received or given around planning and doing what’s good for your retirement success?

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