Quick Guide to Retirement Planning: Getting Started

1. Your first step in retirement planning is to define what you want your retirement to be like and set goals.

  • Don’t be vague – try to set specific goals. At what age do you want to retire? How exactly do you envision your lifestyle changing in retirement? Where will you live and what will you do?
  • Use our Set Yourself Up for Retirement SuccessLink opens a new window worksheet to help define, evaluate and quantify your retirement goals.

2. Estimate how much you will need in retirement.

  • Calculate an annual cost for your retirement "needs" (e.g., food, clothing, shelter, medical care). Use your current monthly expenses as a baseline and estimate whether each item would increase or decrease in retirement.
  • Then determine an annual cost for your retirement "wants" (e.g., travel, entertainment, luxury items).
  • Finally, estimate a cost for any retirement “wishes” (e.g., charitable giving, inheritances, etc.).
  • Our How will retirement affect my expenses? calculator can help you with these estimates.

3. Come up with a savings strategy based your age and how much you've already put away.

  • Change your thinking. It’s easy to neglect building your retirement savings in favor of more pressing priorities.
  • Contribute as much as you can into your employer-sponsored retirement plan (and make sure to take advantage of any employer matching contributions).
  • Get some tips on kick-starting your retirement savings by listening to our How to Start Saving for Retirement Now podcast.
  • Talk to a SunTrust Investment Service advisor to explore ways to maximize your saving for tomorrow without dramatically impacting your lifestyle today.

By age 65, contributing $2,000 annually to a retirement account with an average annual return of 8% will accrue1:

Starting from age 25, starting from age 35

Hypothetical illustration, not representative of the performance of any investment. Investing involves risks, including fluctuating returns and potential loss of principal.

1 "Traditional IRA Calculator," Bankrate.com

4. Consider all your tax-deferred and after-tax investment options.

  • Try to take advantage of all your tax-deferred savings opportunities including maximizing contributions to your 401(k) and annual IRA contributions.
  • Use our How much can I contribute to an IRA? calculator to see how much you can contribute to a Traditional or Roth IRA.
  • Read Retirement Planning Made Easy: Target Date Funds to learn how these helpful investments can take the hassle out of managing your retirement saving


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How Millennials can Get Retirement ReadyLink opens a new window

Take a look at this infographic for some helpful retirement savings tips and strategies.

Investing & Retirement Resource Center

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    The financial obligations associated with caring for an aging parent can often coincide with other priorities. Of course you want to help out when possible; just don’t jeopardize your own future.

  • A Fresh Perspective on Retirement Income

    Faced with the potential to live 30+ years in retirement, the traditional approach to retirement income may no longer make sense.

  • Big Life Change? Three Retirement Rules of Thumb to Follow

    Big life changes can dramatically change how much money you’re able to save each month. Keep in mind these rules of thumb when life shakes things up.

  • Staying on Track with Your Retirement Investments

    Investing for your retirement over the long term takes a little knowledge and discipline. Though there can be no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful—and all investing involves risk—there are ways to help yourself build your retirement cushion.

  • Donor Advised Funds: Family Giving Made Easy

    In 2014, Americans gave more than $358 billion to charity with nearly three-quarters of that amount coming directly from individuals. And while much of these donations come in the form of direct cash gifts, more and more individuals are turning to planned.