Ten Retirement Planning Tips

Ten Retirement Planning Tips

Many households are considering their financial future this time of year and making planning decisions that will ultimately impact retirement. Follow recent coverage on important resources and mistakes to avoid when planning for retirement.

Many Americans households have virtually no retirement savings and many rely exclusively on Social Security. This shortfall is especially critical for people who are just a few years away from retirement. Over 45 percent of all working-age households — or more than 39 million — have no retirement assets1. Cultural and demographic shifts have contributed to this crisis:

  • Retirement often used to mean counting on a company pension, but now it often means counting on your own savings. Many people in their 40s and 50s are caught in this transition.
  • Additionally, a retirement “nest egg” needs to last longer than ever before.

Here are ten retirement planning tips to help you achieve retirement peace of mind from Jean Setzfand, AARP Senior Vice President of Programs:

  1. Start saving today. The earlier you start, the longer you have to save and invest, and the less you need to save each month. AARP and the Ad Council developed a new interactive online resource, AceYourRetirement.org that will provide you with customized action items after you respond to some simple questions.
  2. Save more, if you are getting a late start. Find ways to free up more money to save from AARP’s latest list of 99 great ways to save, and get a handle on credit card debt. Make a payment plan and stick to it, then dedicate those monthly payments to saving once you’re paid up.
  3. Use your 401(k) or similar retirement savings plan at work, and save as much as you can through it. You may get an employer match to boot – try to save at least as much as your employer match. Consider a target date fund for your investments, since they offer a mix of assets that adjust based on your expected retirement date. And, if you don’t have access to workplace 401(k) or retirement plan, open an IRA through a bank or other financial institution. Sock away as much as you can, up to IRS limits and consider target date funds.
  4. Increase your contribution to your 401(k) or IRA, every time you get a raise. And while it may be tempting to spend your tax refund or annual bonus, try treating yourself to something small and use the rest toward your retirement goal.
  5. Take advantage of “catch-up contributions” of an extra $1,000 in IRAs and an extra $6,000 in 401(k)s if you are age 50 or older.
  6. Know your goal. There are many free tools online, including AARP’s retirement calculator, which can help you define a specific retirement savings goal.
  7. Work as long as possible — even part-time gigs in retirement. While many people will not be able to work longer, it’s an important consideration for those who don’t have enough savings or a pension to rely on. Working longer gives you more time to save and invest, and less time to fund in retirement.
  8. Understand that the average annual Social Security benefit is a little less than $17,000 — so saving and investing is very important. If you are able to, consider delaying your benefit, which grows 8% a year between your full retirement age and age 70.
  9. Consider affordability and livability when thinking about where to retire. You might even consider settling down internationally, in a country where couples can live comfortably on as little as $1,500 a month. To find your community’s livability score (“livability index”) and resources to proactively make your community more livable visit, aarp.org/livable.
  10. Consider seeking help from a financial professional. For people who want help from a financial advisor, AARP has just launched a free online tips tool called Interview an Advisor that walks the user through questions to ask an advisor before hiring one. We developed it with the North American Securities Administrators Association. The tool functions like an app and is accessible on smartphones, tablets and computers.

Visit aarp.org/money for more on saving, investing and taxes.

Keep current with AARP Media Relations:


  1. Source: NIRS analysis of 2015 Survey of Consumer Finance

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4 Reasons to Watch State Legislatures in 2018

4 Reasons to Watch State Legislatures in 2018

Simmering issues important to all older Americans and their families, like health and financial security, may escalate to a full boil in many state Capitols in 2018.

Facing these challenges and opportunities head-on, AARP is already exhaustively at work throughout the country, fighting for the issues that matter and driving an innovative agenda focused on commonsense solutions without the clutter of partisanship.

Last year, AARP State Offices achieved huge successes, including new supports for family caregivers, greater access to home and community based services, and new ways to save for retirement. This year, we will continue to find ways to better enable more people to live and age as they choose.

Among our top priorities:

Supporting Family Caregivers
About 40 million family caregivers represent the backbone of our country’s care system, providing hours of unpaid care to their loved ones every day. Over the past two years, AARP state offices have worked with state legislators and governors to enact more than 150 new laws that support these unsung heroes.

In 2018, AARP will continue to support family caregivers and their loved ones by advancing laws and policies that:

  • Provide information about the medical or nursing tasks that family caregivers will be asked to perform when their loved ones are discharged from the hospital. The Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable (CARE) Act promotes family caregiver involvement, notification and instruction, and has been enacted in nearly 40 states already.
  • Reduce the financial burden for family caregivers through a tax credit.
  • Ensure Advanced Practice Registered Nurses can use the full extent of their education and training, and allow nurses to delegate certain medical tasks to home care workers.
  • Provide family caregivers with a much-needed break through greater access to respite care services.
  • Help family caregivers manage personal or property decisions through comprehensive adult guardianship and power of attorney improvements.
  • Encourage employers to offer workplace flexibility options, such as extending paid leave and allowing employees to use sick leave for caregiving responsibilities.
  • Create or modify a home care provider registry to enable public access to home care information and availability.
  • Remove barriers to telehealth services such as outdated regulations and policies, in order to expand access to care, improve the quality and reduce the cost of care, and create greater convenience for patients and their family caregivers.

Strengthening Home and Community Based Services
AARP knows that an overwhelming majority of Americans want to stay in their homes and communities. That’s why AARP is urging state policymakers to improve home and community based support for older adults and Americans living with disabilities by:

  • Lowering costs and improving access.
  • Providing greater choice of settings, providers and services.
  • Enhancing quality of life and quality of care.
  • Increasing effective transitions to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and institutionalizations.

Accessing Retirement Plans at Work
Half of all U.S. families have zero saved for retirement, and 55 million Americans do not have access to retirement saving plans at work. That’s why AARP will continue advocating for Work and Save plans to increase access to workplace savings options and remove barriers for small businesses that want to offer retirement savings plans to their employees.

Ensuring Utility Services are Affordable
All across the country, families count on utility services to warm and cool their homes, keep their lights on, and access the technology to connect with loved ones—as well as police and fire in case of emergency. AARP strives to save utility customers money by fighting for affordable, reliable, and safe energy and telecommunications services. 

In addition, this year, AARP will also continue fighting to: extend Medicaid coverage; lower the costs of prescription drugs; protect pension benefits and retirement income; strengthen communities for all ages; and combat financial exploitation and elder abuse.

To stay up to date on our work in your state, and nationwide, sign up for our e-alerts AARP Advocates e-newsletter, follow me on Twitter @roamthedomes, or visit your state Web page.

Elaine Ryan is the vice president of state advocacy and strategy integration (SASI) for AARP. She leads a team of dedicated legislative staff members who work with AARP state offices to advance advocacy with governors and state legislators, helping people 50-plus attain and maintain their health and financial security.

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AARP Announces 2017 State Capitol Caregivers and Super Savers

AARP Announces 2017 State Capitol Caregivers and Super Savers

In addition to advocating for older Americans in the halls of Congress, AARP staff and volunteers are working on the ground in all 50 states, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to make a difference in people’s lives through advocacy. This year, we have helped enact state policies to support more than 30 million family caregivers and provide thousands of workers with a new way to save for retirement.

Achieving these results took a lot of hard work and dedication from state legislators, governors and other elected officials. They worked together – often across party lines – to write, support, and advance commonsense policies that make people’s day-to-day lives a little bit easier and gives them more financial security in their retirement.

To recognize these elected leaders, AARP is proud to announce our fourth annual bipartisan class of Capitol Caregivers who fought to increase support for family caregivers and their loved ones along with our third annual bipartisan class of Super Savers who fought to help more Americans retire with confidence.

Capitol Caregivers
Every day, 40 million Americans help parents, spouses and other loved ones live independently at home, where they want to be. Family caregiving is a labor of love, to be sure, but it can also be a challenge. Care responsibilities can include providing transportation, cooking meals, managing finances, performing complex medical tasks, helping with bathing and dressing, and so much more. Sixty percent of family caregivers juggle full- or part-time jobs with their caregiving duties, and many are still raising their families.

AARP is fighting for commonsense solutions to make these big responsibilities a little bit easier—and we’ve seen real progress in states across the country.

AARP’s 2017 class of Capitol Caregivers recognizes 91 state legislators, five governors, one lieutenant governor, and one justice from more than 30 states, who advanced policies that:

A list of AARP’s 2017 Capitol Caregivers and the legislation they championed can be found here.

Super Savers
Today, 45 percent of working-age households have no retirement savings at all. At AARP, we believe everyone should be able to retire with confidence. That’s why we’re fighting for Work and Save plans that give more workers access to a payroll deduction retirement savings plan. Employees who are able to save for retirement out of their regular paychecks are 15 times more likely to save.

AARP’s third class of Super Savers includes six state legislators and two state treasurers who were integral to the passage of state-facilitated retirement programs in 2017.

A list of AARP’s 2017 Super Savers and the legislation they championed can be found here.

More work to do . . .
In 2018, AARP will continue to work with elected state leaders across the country to fight for the issues that matter to you and your families. To stay up-to-date on our progress, or get involved, sign up here.

More information
2014 Capitol Caregivers

2015 Capitol Caregivers
2016 Capitol Caregivers

2015 Super Savers
2016 Super Savers

Nancy LeaMond is AARP chief advocacy and engagement officer. She leads the organization’s Communities, State and National Group, including government relations, advocacy and public education for AARP’s social change agenda. LeaMond also has responsibility for AARP’s state operation, which includes offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

You can follow her on Twitter @NancyLeaMond.


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New PSA with Ad Council Spotlights Male Caregiving

New PSA with Ad Council Spotlights Male Caregiving

A couple of weeks back, we unveiled our new caregiving ad – starring a unique caregiver. You may recognize him as the antihero from Machete or Breaking Bad, but you would never assume he’s just like you. That’s right, actor Danny Trejo is a caregiver and he is showing just how tough male caregivers are.

Although the typical family caregiver is a 49-year-old woman, there is a silent army of husbands, brothers, sons and friends – about 16 million– caring for their spouses, parents and other loved ones.

As family sizes shrink and the population ages, the number of male caregivers is only expected to rise, but they are often ignored in the caregiving conversation.

AARP, in conjunction with, the Ad Council is spotlighting this overlooked group through its new PSA campaign. The ad features Trejo performing the tough guy feats he is known for in films, alongside the everyday tough jobs a typical caregiver performs.

AARP’s new data profile on male caregivers shares insights on the level and type of care men provide, the challenges they face and more. Some of the key findings include:

  • More than half of male caregivers (63%) are the primary caregiver for their loved one.
    • Male family caregivers are helping their loved ones with personal care activities and more than half (54%) of male family caregivers perform medical and nursing tasks, such as injections, tube feedings, and wound care.
  • Many men say they feel unprepared for these tasks and express discomfort providing intimate personal care (e.g. bathing, dressing, toileting).
  • Men are less likely than women to reach out for help and feel uncomfortable discussing the emotional challenges of caregiving.
  • More than one-third (37%) of male caregivers don’t tell their employers that they are juggling caregiving responsibilities at home.


In addition, AARP sharing stories of men rising to the challenge and offering their lesson’s learned with others.

Caregivers can find helpful tools, like the Prepare to Care guides and more at aarp.org/caregiving.

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AARP Public Pension Guide Breaks Down Complex Issue for Elected Officials

AARP Public Pension Guide Breaks Down Complex Issue for Elected Officials

Pop and his grandaughter

My pop was a bus driver for 25 years.  Once in retirement, I would have loved my Mom and Pop to relocate to D.C. to live with me. But they loved their life and community and wanted to age in their own home – just like millions of Americans.

Luckily, pop had a public pension, which gave him and my mom the financial security they needed to retire with confidence and dignity—and to keep living independently in their own home.  Pop worked hard and counted on having his pension for their financial security. Firefighters, nurses, teachers, and other public employees all across America also count on their public pensions.  

Exactly for this reason, it’s critical that our elected officials and those who advise them understand how public pensions operate. This helps them meet the needs of employees and retirees, as well as employers and taxpayers.

To help with this effort, AARP has created a new public pension resource, Understanding Public Pensions: A Guide for Elected Officials, coauthored with the Center for State and Local Government Excellence.  We hope that many state and local policymakers will get the chance to review the guide, prior to making changes to their states pension plans, in particular.

The guide provides key facts about public pensions. It also discusses the important role policymakers play in making sure their state and local pension plans are well designed and adequately funded. This helps ensures they can meet the goals of all stakeholders, including:

  • attracting and retaining employees
  • workforce management
  • retirement security
  • keeping pension costs manageable

The guide also reviews:

  • Options for public pension plan design
  • The importance of adequate financing
  • How to develop a sound pension funding policy
  • Important considerations when making changes to a pension plan
  • The effects of various proposals on the workforce and employees, and resulting financial impacts

Fighting for You
AARP is working to make sure that state and local policymakers have the information they need. This helps support strong public pensions which:

  • Enables our firefighters, nurses, teachers and other public employees to have financial independence in retirement
  • Promotes financial security which keeps people from requiring costly public services to meet their basic needs as they age

This is why AARP’s state offices from Oregon to Colorado to South Carolina to Rhode Island continue to advocate for a defined benefit pension as an important means for ensuring financial security in retirement.

This guide is the third in a series of public pension resources recently supported by AARP. The other reports, which examine how state governments have pre-funded their pensions and review significant changes made to public pensions in recent years, can be found here.

Elaine Ryan is the vice president of state advocacy and strategy integration (SASI) for AARP. She leads a team of dedicated legislative staff members who work with AARP state offices to advance advocacy with governors and state legislators, helping people 50-plus attain and maintain their health and financial security.


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AARP Volunteers Are Fighting For You

AARP Volunteers Are Fighting For You

During National Volunteer Week I’d like to stop and say thank you. Thank you to the thousands of AARP volunteers who are fighting for families as part of our multi-state advocacy campaigns across every state, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  By giving your time and energy to advocate for the 50-plus and their families, you’ve helped to:

Here are snapshots of just a few of our incredible volunteers.

Pat from Connecticut
Pat helped AARP Connecticut champion the CARE Act, a new law that supports family caregivers when their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home. Recently she had a caregiver thank her for her work. Pat shared,

“She (the caregiver) said, would you go back to AARP and all the volunteers there and tell them thank you. Thank you for standing up for the seniors. Thank you for standing up for the people of Connecticut.” Pat continues, “And then I realized that’s why I volunteer.”

Pat from CT

Earl G. from Ohio

“I believe that AARP performs an essential service for members and all Ohioans to make sure they receive a fair shake on the issues we support and I am happy to volunteer my time for this important work.”

Earl represents AARP and the interests of Ohioans 50-plus in his service on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Telecommunication Study. He’s working to make sure Ohioans only pay what’s fair and justified for reliable utility service.

Monica S. from Florida

“The needs of caregivers vastly outweigh the resources we have today.   We are seeing the tip of the iceberg of the caregiver crisis.   I am a proud AARP volunteer addressing this issue.”

When it comes to supporting family caregivers, Monica’s doing it all. She advocates for more support for family caregivers and their loved ones at the state capitol, organizes conferences, recruits for events, is helping to build a caregiving coalition and much more.

Julia from Texas
Julia is fighting for more support for family caregivers—a subject near and dear to her heart being a caregiver herself.

“I am so glad that AARP for this legislative session is trying to work in this area especially to give caregivers some measure of support.”

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Julia the caregiver

"When you're married and your significant other gets ill, you truly experience what it means to be a caregiver," says Julia of San Antonio.

Posted by AARP Texas on Monday, April 10, 2017


Mike and Marilyn Worner with Sen. Nichol Poolman

Michael and Marilyn W. from North Dakota

During the 2017 legislative session Michael and Marilyn have enthusiastically worked to support family caregivers.  One bill they helped pass was recently signed into law and will help family caregivers get some of the relief and resources they need.

Even more impressive, Mike and Marilyn live 200 miles away from the state capitol. Yet, they have made multiple trips to Bismarck to help fight for family caregivers.



Thank you to Mike, Marilyn, Earl, Monica, Julia, Pat and ALL our amazing AARP volunteers who devote so much of their time and energy to help others.

Would you like to volunteer with AARP? Visit aarp.org/getinvolved.


Elaine Ryan is the vice president of state advocacy and strategy integration (SASI) for AARP. She leads a team of dedicated legislative staff members who work with AARP state offices to advance advocacy with governors and state legislators, helping people 50-plus attain and maintain their health and financial security.

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