How to Retire Rich: 3 Smart Steps at Ages 30-45

Keep your eyes on the prize. A new house or family may compete for your retirement savings.

At last, you've gotten your career on course and are ready for your next big moves -- perhaps starting a family and buying a home. Before you get too far down that road, map out a long-term plan, says Jim Oliver, a certified financial planner in San Antonio, Tex. "Most people live the lifestyle they want without putting away enough to meet the goals they want later on. It's like having a budget for a trip and not allocating it. Before the trip is over, they run out of money."

Prepare for contingencies. If you haven't done so already, fuel an emergency fund with enough to cover at least six months' worth of basic expenses. That cushion can prevent you from raiding your retirement accounts after a layoff or keep you from borrowing your way out of a crisis. "Debt is the number-one problem that sabotages most couples," says Deborah Fox, of Fox Financial Planning Network, in San Diego.

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Jane Bennett Clark
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
The late Jane Bennett Clark, who passed away in March 2017, covered all facets of retirement and wrote a bimonthly column that took a fresh, sometimes provocative look at ways to approach life after a career. She also oversaw the annual Kiplinger rankings for best values in public and private colleges and universities and spearheaded the annual "Best Cities" feature. Clark graduated from Northwestern University.