A new survey sheds light on the biggest factor putting a damper on American workers' retirement plans: job insecurity.
The Employee Benefit Research Institute's 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey showed that job fears have surpassed concerns like paying down debt, making mortgage payments, rising health costs and the shaky economy.
American workers -- and boomers in particular -- are feeling what Principal Financial's Greg Burrows calls the "sandwich generation effect."
"Today workers are increasingly overseeing firsthand the care of their own parents, and friends of the family," Burrows says. "It's become a very real problem for workers."
Compared to 1991, the EBRI finds that more than three times the amount of workers are planning to work past 65 years old, the typical retirement age. Meanwhile nearly half indicate they're afraid they'll need to quit work unexpectedly, due to changes in health, family matters or downsizing/closures at work.
What You Can Do
Planning is integral, says Burrows, so consider doing the following to pad your nest egg:
1. Use retirement calculators.
Workers using these tools tend to save 40% more than those who don't, EBRI finds. And they'll help you understand so much, says Burrows. "They're simple to use, can be used independently and will instantly show where your savings needs are," he adds.
[Try these InvestingAnswers calculators: Million Dollar Savings Calculator: How Long Do I Need to Save to Become a Millionaire and Million Dollar Savings Calculator: How Much Do I Need to Save to Become a Millionaire?]
2. Plan for the worst.
Rather than make assumptions about what will happen, pad your emergency fund, actively save in a retirement plan (Burrows recommends saving between 11% and 15% of your paycheck) and "manage the debt side of the ledger," he says.
[InvestingAnswers feature: The Lazy Man's Retirement Portfolio]
And take advantage of your company match if you haven't, it's the easiest way to double your savings.