Retirees warn about the risks of not saving


(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY Need motivation to stop wasting money and save more for retirement? Two short videos by Boston College's Center for Retirement Research dramatize the importance of preparing financially for the future by exploring the challenges -- and regrets -- facing retirees.

In the first video, residents of a Boston-area apartment building, all retired, talk honestly about the difficulties of relying on Social Security for the lion's share of their retirement income. In the second piece, they discuss how their past financial decisions have affected their retirement.

Such stories are instructive, helping younger people learn from the good and not-so-good decisions these retirees made. My hope is that these videos will motivate you to be more mindful about your money. Here's what that means: to carefully consider every purchase, save more in your 401(k) or other retirement plan, and more generally learn what you have to do today to plan for the retirement you want in the future. You also may want to share these videos along to your kids -- they need to hear these messages, as well.

Retirement tips: Here's how to save more now
What a marshmallow experiment can teach you about retirement
Retirement planning: How to do it right

At every one of my retirement planning workshops, I can safely predict that I'll hear the following two statements:

- I wish I had heard you 20 years ago
- My kids need to hear what you're saying

During your retirement years, it's a good bet you'll never look back and wish you'd frequented Starbucks more often, purchased fancier cars, eaten more fast-food, or spent more money on clothes. Years from now, you'll have forgotten these transient pleasures. Instead, just like the retirees profiled in these videos, I bet you'll miss the money you could have saved.

So do whatever it takes to plan better now for your retirement years -- your future self will thank you.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto contributor AlexRaths

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    Steve Vernon helped large employers design and manage their retirement programs for more than 35 years as a consulting actuary. Now he's a research scholar for the Stanford Center on Longevity, where he helps collect, direct and disseminate research that will improve the financial security of seniors. He's also president of Rest-of-Life Communications, delivers retirement planning workshops and authored Money for Life: Turn Your IRA and 401(k) Into a Lifetime Retirement Paycheck and Recession-Proof Your Retirement Years.