BOSTON (CBS) – Do you need $1 million to retire comfortably?

I have reviewed many retirement articles and white papers and found most discussed how much income the $1 million would produce for you over your retirement years without using up the principal. So the $1 million seems to be the magic number.

But most people do retire with a lot less than $1 million. And any savings makes life in retirement better. Often the savings do not provide enough income so retirees dig into principal to supplement their Social Security benefits and pension. And often they must change their life style because of a lower income stream.

According to a survey about retirement readiness done by Fidelity Investments, over half (57%) the retirees they interviewed wished they had done more to prepare for retirement and earlier.

And the best bet for reaching $1 million for retirement is to start in your 20s! Most twenty year olds do not often have retirement planning on their radar screen. These are the accumulation years. They get that first job and they want stuff. Nice stuff! The flat screen TV, iPod, iPad kind of stuff.

The average twenty-something is digging themselves into a hole they may not get out of for many years. Add all of this accumulation debt to school loans, which average $24,000, and many are not eligible for a car loan or a mortgage because they are carrying too much debt.

Staying out of debt is key to achieving financial success in your 20s. Starting to save for retirement is also a big part of that success. The key years for retirement savings are between the ages of 20 and 35.

Starting to save in your 20s gives the money 40 years or more to grow. Start with your employer plan at work. If your employer offers a match in the retirement plan be sure you are contributing at least that amount so you take full advantage of those extra dollars offered to you. No employer plan at work, use an IRA to save for retirement.

A 401(k) contribution of $2,000 a year, about $160 a month or $40 a week, started at age 20 and continued for 47 years with an average 8% return over those 47 years (which is realistic) you could be a millionaire at retirement.

You will have contributed $94,000 to the account over the years. And of all of the decades Twenty-Somethings have the best shot at becoming millionaires!

Great website for help keeping track of your finances and budget is


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