BOSTON (CBS) – Many birthdays are key to successful retirement planning.

And as these birthdays creep up on you, you need to do some planning. If you’re 30 or 40 years old these birthdays may seem far away, but time marches on. And quickly! Age 50 seems to be the wake-up call for retirement planning.

When you reach the big 5-0 most individuals begin to seriously think about retirement and they soon realize they have not saved enough to retire comfortably. But the good news is most 50-year-olds are in their prime earning years. Now if you were a late bloomer you may have two kids getting ready to go to college and saving for retirement is far from a reality.

Studies have shown that individuals spend more time planning a vacation than they do their retirement and worse they also have not figured out how much they actually need to save to have a comfortable retirement.

So for starters you need to review your retirement savings and figure out how much more money you will need to save to have that comfortable retirement, you know, the one where you get to play golf a couple of times a week on the Cape or in Florida.

Congress made it a bit easier for you to save more once you reach that magic age of 50. You can use the catch-up provision in your retirement plan to actually sock away more dollars for retirement. The retirement plan limit for this year is $17,000 for your 401(k), 403(b) or a 457, which is the state’s deferred compensation plan.

If you celebrate your 50th birthday any time this year, you get a bonus and can add another $5,500 to your account. Both the 403(b) and the 457 plans have additional catch up provisions. Sounds great, you can contribute $22,500 to your retirement nest egg this year, but where do you get the extra dollars? Less than 6% of workers are able to max out their retirement plan. But if you can you will greatly benefit from the additional savings.

Your IRA can also benefit if you turn 50 this year. Contribute the maximum of $5,000 and the catch-up provision here is $1,000. You can also set up a Spousal IRA for a nonworking at-home spouse. I don’t make up these names. Just be sure you have earned enough to cover both IRAs.

One more thing:  So what exactly would the extra dollars mean for you? Well if you are able to contribute $6,000 to an IRA for the next 17 years, until you start Social Security at 67, and we assume a 8% return, you could have close to a quarter of a million dollars ($216,000) in your nest egg.

There are many financial calculators out there to help you. Check out your employer’s retirement plan website or try the American Savings Education Council’s website and use their Ball Park Estimator to see how much more you need to save each paycheck to reach your retirement goals.

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