With our baby boomer-in-chief turning 60 earlier this summer and the baby boom generation marking that same milestone this year, we're providing a number of articles that might be useful to this noteworthy generation. This article was first published on March 8, 2006.
Investing is certainly enjoyable, but none of us socks away hard-earned moola just for the fun of it. No, we invest with goals in mind, both those of the shorter-term variety -- saving enough to buy a house or fund a child's college education, for example -- and for the big kahuna: a comfy retirement.
On both those fronts, every serious saver needs to answer two important questions: How much should I save and where should I invest it?
The Fool has you covered coming and going on that latter question. Our general asset-allocation rules are just a mouse click (and a little scrolling) away, and once you've had a look at those, you'll be in a good position to begin divvying up your personalized pie chart.
You might, for instance, look to keep volatility under control by anchoring your portfolio with large-cap stalwarts such as Sysco
With those slices of the pie in place, intelligent asset allocators might then venture down the market cap ladder with long-haul retail overachievers like Ross Stores
Mutual funds and REITs can also play key roles in your asset-allocation game plan, of course. And as retirement draws near, fixed-income investments (i.e., bonds and/or bond funds) should pack considerable appeal, too.
Max out your savings
The Fool is chock-full of commentary and advice to help you allocate your assets, but determining the size of that pie is a different matter. That is, our other salient question -- how much to save -- is a highly individualized query, one that has to do with your lifestyle, your age, and the kind of post-work life you're looking to lead. Given those moving parts, it's a good thing the federal government has made it easy to go at least part of the way toward determining how much you should be saving. Really.
Right now, unless you're 50 or older, $4,000 is the maximum you can contribute to an IRA. (Once you hit the half-century mark, the Feds permit catch-up contributions, allowing you to kick in $4,500 for 2005 and $5,000 in 2006.) What's more, if your company provides a 401(k), $15,000 is the new and improved IRS contribution limit for 2006. (With 401(k)s, the over-50 set is permitted to play catch-up with an additional $5,000.)
But what if your company doesn't provide a 401(k) or limits the amount you can contribute? Or what if you're just looking for compelling savings ideas beyond no-brainers like tax-favored retirement accounts? Not to worry: The Fool has resources aplenty for you there, too.
For starters, there's our retirement center where, among other things, you can learn how to avoid pitfalls and preserve your nest egg. We also offer a slew of handy-dandy calculators, including one specifically designed to help you determine if you're saving enough dough for your dotage. Or if you're looking for a personal touch and a helping hand, take a look at my colleague Robert Brokamp's Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter service.
Whether you're a baby boomer approaching retirement age or you've got quite a few years to go, our latest special report will shed some light on innovative healthcare and biotech companies that are paving the way to golden returns for your golden years. The Motley Fool's top analysts bring you premium stock picks in The Big Boom: Explosive Opportunities in Biotech and Health Stocks .
Foolish research associate Katrina Chan updated this article, which was originally written by Shannon Zimmerman, lead analyst for the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter. Sysco is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Family Dollar Stores is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Vodafone Group is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Katrina has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a golden disclosure policy .