Consistency, timing are important when planning for retirement

Here are some tips with your 401K

SAN ANTONIO – Hopefully, thoughts of retirement evoke images of beaches and time with family and friends, but if you are an able-bodied part of the workforce, saving for it is something to always think about.

One of the major ways to do it is through your 401K or a Thrift Savings Plan if you are military or government.

Here are a few things to know to help with retirement:


When do you want to retire? 60, 65, 70, and how long do you have before you're there?

With that information, you can better decide on the amount of risk you are willing to take in investing until you get to that day.

Higher risk means higher opportunity for big gains, but potentially big losses, too.

Even if the market is hot right now, if you are closer to retirement it isn't a good idea to go really aggressive on your own.

Markets are fickle and can turn at a moment's notice.

How much you put away each paycheck really depends on what kind of lifestyle you want to live.

Do you want to hang out and play a round of golf every once in a while?

Or do you want to travel the world?

Also, if you are in your 20s, you can put in less each month than someone who is just now starting in their 40s.

"If you've gotten a late start, you know, and you really haven't got much saved, or maybe anything saved at this point for retirement. I would say don't, don't give up," said Certified Financial Planner Mikel Van Cleve with USAA, "Don't just throw up your hands and say 'Well, it's, it's just too late right.' It may be more difficult, but you still wanna do what you can. "

Van Cleve says it's important to not just depend on Social Security.

Otherwise, you might have to hold a part-time job after retirement.


It's important to stay committed, putting a little away every paycheck

The market can be up, it can be down, but remember you are investing in actual shares of a mutual fund or company, and the prices today won't be the same tomorrow.

"What you don't want to do is constantly lookin' at, you know the market every day, and watching your balance every day, because, one, it may drive you crazy, because it is going to fluctuate and change a lot," said Van Cleve, "If you've got a long-term time frame, maybe 20-30 years until retirement, then what's happening currently, isn't going to impact you."

It's important to also decide how aggressive you want your investments to be.

"The key here again is to make sure you have an investment portfolio, that's really going to align to the timeframe you have, and the level of risk you are comfortable with, and we should also say too your risk capacity," said Van Cleve, "Can you afford for things to go up and down?... If that's the only money you have, and you haven't built up much yet, then your capacity for risk may not be as high."

His advice, talk to your own financial planner.