NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- No, saving for retirement isn't daunting.
A plan of action, coupled with the right tools at your disposal is key, experts say.
The fact is, too many American's aren't keeping retirement top of mind. Some 21 million people aren't saving for retirement at all, according to a Bankrate survey.
Here are three tools bound to pave the way to a financially sound retirement.
1. Index Funds
Index funds have low fees and track the major stock indexes like the broad S&P 500, essentially guaranteeing diversification.
Experts say index funds in a Roth IRA, an account that invests after-tax dollars -- as opposed to pre-tax dollars, which is the case in a 401(k) account -- is the winning combination for retirement, especially if you have time on your side.
"You don't find those hidden costs with index funds, like you do with mutual funds," said Richard Paul,
a certified financial planner and president of Richard W. Paul & Associates based in Michigan.
If you have a 401(k) from your employer, it's likely full of mutual funds.
"But index funds can be a great investment for a Roth IRA as long as you have two things on your side; time & discipline," he said. "Remember, if your portfolio loses 50% you have to earn 100% to get back to even."
2. Dollar Cost Averaging
Once you have your Roth IRA with an index fund, you now need some money.
If you don't have a lump sum to contribute to your Roth IRA, you're not out of luck. In fact, you're setting the stage to rely on a very popular investment strategy: dollar cost averaging.
It's a fancy term for contributing a set amount of money each month into a retirement account.
"The key to dollar cost averaging is to set it and forget it," Paul added. "Every year, set a goal as to how much you want to save and set your account to auto-contribute, and you won't even have to think about it."
Paul's tip of automatic payments means a certain amount of money is transferred from your checking account each month and into your Roth IRA. And you get to choose that amount. Experts say 10% of your annual income should be socked away for retirement.
"It's just another bill," said Adam Nugent, president of Foresight Wealth Management, based in Utah. "By systematizing it and looking at it that way, you will be less likely to stop contributing to your retirement accounts."
The idea with dollar cost averaging is that as the markets drop, you have greater purchasing power and can have more skin in the game. When the markets go up, now your Roth IRA is worth more.
After all, there's still some room for growth left in the S&P 500. Goldman Sachs (GS) expects the index to rise to 2,100 by the end of next year - a 9.2% rise from its current level.
3. Retirement Calculators
One of the quintessential questions in retirement savings is just how much will I need?
That's a complicated question. Online retirement calculators, such as this one from the Washington, D.C.-based Employee Benefit Research Institute, can help give you a ballpark sense of how big your retirement savings goals should be.
But know that retirement calculators aren't perfect.
"Say you are a 60 year old retired couple, who wants to generate $100,000 from a portfolio for 35 years, assuming a 4% inflation rate," he said. "The calculator would then assume you'd need close to $400,000 per year in your 90s, and would then tell you that you need to be very aggressive [with your investing] to meet your goals."
But aside from inflation, Paul stresses the importance of accounting for decreasing expenses later on in retirement, like travel, entertainment and your mortgage.
Resorting to risky investments - like stocks - is never wise once you're well into retirement. That's because you have less time to recoup potential losses.