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In Your 50s? Retirement Saving Is a Marathon

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Marathoners often refer to miles 18 through 22 as the hardest part of a race, because it's when when most runners "hit the wall." At this point, their stores of glycogen have plummeted and they experience dramatic fatigue until the final phase of the race, when adrenaline kicks in again to pull them across the finish line.

Saving for retirement is a marathon, not a sprint, and if that's the case, many investors "hit the wall" in their 50s. While retirement beckons, the finish line is not quite close enough to fully relax and assume the final phase of the race is in the bag. Like runners in a marathon, most of us heading toward retirement in our 50s need to carefully plan our route, re-evaluate strategies along the way and possibly adjust expectations to make sure we have what we need to get to the finish.

Saving for retirement is a marathon, not a sprint, but many investors "hit the wall" in their 50s.

First, take a close look at where you are by measuring your cash flow and net worth. Whether you decide to use a robust software program such as Quicken (INTU), an online service such as Mint or a good ol' pencil and paper, calculate your monthly income and expenses, as well as your assets and liabilities, and determine whether you need to adjust your level of spending and the amount you are saving.

When analyzing how much in retirement savings you will need, it's a good rule of thumb to use 5% as a safe withdrawal rate from a typical 60% stock and 40% bond investment portfolio. Using these assumptions, if you have $1 million in retirement savings at age 65, you would be able to withdraw $50,000 annually and still have the account continue to grow and keep up with inflation. If you think you'll need to withdraw more than that during your retirement years, you may need to adjust your goals and accumulate more in savings while you're working.

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