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Don't Retire Poor -- Avoid These 10 Pitfalls

There are a number of factors that can contribute to not having enough money when you retire, but the most serious are not starting to save early enough and funding other things before retirement.

Here are 10 mistakes many people make to shortchange their retirement:

1. Setting money aside for college ahead of retirement: Many people decide that placing money into their children's college funds is more important than placing it into their own retirement fund. This is rarely a good idea. While it is possible to get loans for college, the same can't be said about retirement. Make sure that you contribute to your retirement fund first, and then work on providing some help for your children's college education.

2. Believing it's OK to wait: The magic of compounding interest is an important factor in growing your retirement fund. Even when you save small amounts in your early work history, the returns earned on that money will build on the base and, over time, will likely help you come out much further ahead than if you wait until later in life to begin your retirement savings. You should begin contributing to your retirement fund as soon as you begin your first job out of college (if not sooner). This will make the question of whether you're contributing enough to your retirement fund a non-issue in later years.

3. Not taking advantage of 401(k) matches: If your company provides matching funds for your 401(k) contributions, then not contributing -- or undercontributing -- is the same as throwing away free money. You should be taking full advantage of these matches from Day 1. Even when money is tight in your first years in the workforce, contributing up to the amount matched by your company in your 401(k) plan should be a top priority in your budget.
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