Take Advantage of Retirement Plans
Pension plans

Traditional pension plans have all but disappeared among employment benefits packages. These days, saving for retirement is more on the shoulders of the employee.

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It may seem like a no-brainer to take advantage of a program at work where your employer matches your retirement fund contributions, but not everyone sees it this way. In fact, about one-third of people who have a 401(k) plan available at work don't contribute. You should consider doing so, especially when employers offer contribution matching programs. Under these programs, not contributing is like turnin­g down free money -- with compound interest.

There are a number of types of retirement savings account plans that employers can offer. Among the most popular are the 401(k) plan and the IRA (individual retirement account). Both have their advantages (see Tip 6) and disadvantages, and are widely available at most mid-sized to large companies.

Those who work at small businesses have options as well, as do the self-employed. Check with your employer, a financial consultant or the federal government about various available retirement savings accounts. You might also consider contributing to more than one account. Diversification is an essential ingredient to saving a nest egg.