AGE : 25
• Make a budget. By figuring out where your money is going, you can funnel more dollars into your nest egg.
• Stash away three to six months worth of expenses in a safe account; that’ll help you weather any storms.
• Join your company retirement plan. Save the max if you can, but at least put away enough to get the full company match—that’s free money, which you can’t afford to pass up.
With plenty of time to ride out market downturns, you can afford to shoot for higher returns by loading up on stocks.
AGE : 35
• Keep your 401(k) intact. When you change jobs, don’t cash out your plan—roll it into your new plan or an IRA to preserve that tax-deferred growth.
• Avoid company stock. It’s the riskiest asset of all—a crisis could jeopardize both your job and your nest egg.
• Coordinate your spouse’s savings plan. Make sure your asset mixes fit together into the right overall portfolio.
As your portfolio grows, you can diversify further among different types of assets, and trim stocks slightly, to reduce risk.
AGE : 45
• Save however you can. If you’ve maxed out your 401(k) and IRA s, stash money away in taxable accounts, too.
• Try to cut investing costs. Index funds and exchange traded funds both offer small fees.
• Consider tax-efficient investments. For anyone in the 28% federal tax bracket or higher, muni bonds typically offer better after-tax yields than taxable bonds.
With the kids headed off to college, now’s the time to trim your risk level further by boosting your bond holdings.
AGE : 55
• Use catch-up savings strategies. If you’re 50 or older, you can add an extra $5,500 to your 401(k) in 2010; IRA savers can throw in another $1,000.
• Consult a financial adviser. Retirement is nearing, and you’ll have key decisions to make.
• Research a post retirement career. Whether you’ll need the extra income or just want to keep busy, it’s time to start planning for your next act.
Continue to increase the bond portion of your portfolio so that you can preserve your assets.
AGE : 65
• Get a complete picture of your investments—taxable and tax-deferred—as well as any other benefits, such as a pension.
• Decide which assets you should tap first and how much you can safely withdraw without running out of money.
• Shop for health insurance. Depending on your retiree health coverage plan, you’ll probably need to buy a Medigap policy to supplement Medicare coverage.
Income is now the priority, but you still need the growth in stocks to keep ahead of inflation.