"For a first-time client, the first thing we'd do is a reality check and run the numbers," said Mark Wilson, a certified financial planner and chief investment officer at The Tarbox Group. "Are they ahead or behind the game, and how realistic is that five-year number?
"Most people don't have a good sense of how much it really requires to retire," he explained.
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Indeed, the Center for Economic and Policy Research says the median net worth of near-retirees—those ages 55 to 64—was $165,700 in 2013, down from $177,600 in 1989. But given that some estimates peg health-care costs during retirement at more than $200,000, that figure paints a pretty bleak picture.
So if you're falling short but are facing retirement, what can you do? For starters, take advantage of catch-up contributions for retirement accounts, such as 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts. On top of the 2015 contribution limit of $18,000 for all workers in 401(k) plans, employees age 50 and older can stash away an extra $6,000. The annual contribution limit for IRAs is $5,500, and the catch-up contribution limit is $1,000.