First Person: My Slacker Path to Retirement

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A member of Generation X, I have worked hard all my life despite the "slacker" label for my generation. When it comes to my retirement, I'd like to put things on auto-pilot and not have to worry about the future. I was interested in a U.S. News & World Report article about the "7 Rules of Thumb for Retirement Planning." I like the idea of keeping it simple. If I re-visit the rules of thumb periodically, I should be able to stay on track. I'd like to be able to kick back with a few Sour Apple Martinis on the beach when I'm 62. It was fun to review the different retirement planning goals even though I'm 27 years away from retiring. I know I can no longer neglect my retirement planning. At the same time, I don't want to have to think too hard about it.

Saving sixth months' income

My first retirement planning goal is to simply get out of debt so I can boost my emergency savings. According to the article, I should have an emergency fund that is equal to six months' of income. I've heard many experts say I need 9 months of an emergency fund while I'm still working. At this point, my emergency fund is pathetic so I am definitely failing on this retirement planning goal.

Paying myself first

I need to get in the habit of paying myself first instead of paying myself last. At this time, I'm only having 6 percent of my income automatically deducted from my paycheck and saved into the company-sponsored retirement plan. I need to do a better job. I plan to boost my 401(k) deduction to 10 percent as soon as I've eliminated credit-card debt.

Shifting around my allocations

I could easily accomplish my next retirement planning goal within 5 to 10 minutes. I simply went online to my retirement account so that I could follow the rule to keep a percentage of bonds in my portfolio that equals my age. I should have 40 percent of my money in bonds and 60 percent in mutual funds made up of stocks. Before making the change, I had only 10 percent of my money in bonds.

Retiring with 8 times my income

Another attainable goal is to have 8 times my final income saved by the time I retire. I used to think about our household income when planning my retirement savings target. But, it's a lot easier for me to reach my goal since I don't make as much as my husband. I already have 2 times my income saved for retirement at age 40. By age 50, I hope to have 4 times my income saved. By age 60, I should have 6 times my income. By age 67, when I reach full retirement, I know I'll have at least 8 times my income saved without too much effort.

I'm skeptical that I'll get an average of 7 to 8 percent each year from my investment portfolio. I don't think anyone can guarantee results no matter how diversified and prudent the pickings for the portfolio. My plan is to live in my son's guest room if I have to when I'm retired. As long as he lives near the beach, I'll be set.

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More from this contributor:

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I Was Ignorant about Social Security

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