Depressed stocks, rising unemployment, and an economy that refuses to recover have a huge number of workers worried about how they'll ever save enough to retire. Instead of worrying about it, though, doing the right things right now will help you shore up your financial stability, both now and for the years ahead.

A recent survey by The Hartford showed that the majority of the workers who responded have huge concerns about the state of their finances -- 56% of those surveyed believe that they'll have to cut back on contributions to their retirement plans at work, while 53% expect their employers to contribute less or nothing at all in matching contributions for their retirement.

In the wake of a weak economy, many workers believe that they'll have to delay adding more money to their retirement accounts. A substantial fraction, 24%, believe that they'll have to work longer and retire later in order to make ends meet.

Better solutions
For some, working longer is a perfectly viable solution. Given that many people live well into their 80s and 90s, staying at your job past age 65 doesn't mean that you'll have to work until the day you die. In fact, you may prefer the structured life of the workplace to the free-flowing lifestyle of retirement living.

But ideally, how long you work should be your choice rather than an obligation. If you tune up your financial plan now, you may still be able to retire on your schedule.

Two steps to saving success
To succeed with your financial plan, you need two things: (1) make sure you're putting aside enough money to give yourself a realistic shot at achieving your goals and (2) figure out how to invest that money to maximize your expected returns.

As the survey suggests, most people focus more on the first issue. That makes sense -- you have a lot more control over how much you can save than you do on how your investments will perform. If you haven't looked closely at your budget to find  areas to cut back, doing so could free up much-needed cash for other expenses or to increase savings.

Smarter investments
Most people, though, have already tapped out their obvious cost-cutting measures. If you're already working as hard as you can, you need your money to work harder for you.

As strange as it may sound in an iffy economy, putting more of your money into stocks may be the right answer. Many people invest too conservatively in their retirement accounts, which cuts their investment returns and forces them to save more to hit their retirement target.

If you're nervous about putting more money into stocks right now -- and who isn't? -- you might want to beef up the value side of your portfolio. Value stocks offer a margin of safety to help protect you from future losses, while also giving you potential for future profits.

The stocks below look like good candidates for further research, especially given the positive feedback they've gotten from our Motley Fool CAPS community. But don't just blindly buy them; measures like price-to-earnings ratio and price-to-book ratio can be misleading if you don't take a closer look at the numbers behind them.


CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

P/E Ratio

Price-to-Book Ratio

Return on Equity

Chevron (NYSE:CVX)





Forest Labs (NYSE:FRX)





Interactive Brokers (NASDAQ:IBKR)





Novartis (NYSE:NVS)





Raytheon (NYSE:RTN)





Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-B)





Sykes Enterprises (NASDAQ:SYKE)





Source: Motley Fool CAPS, Yahoo! Finance.

Don't wait to act
Of course, value stocks are just one way to add equity exposure to your portfolio. As you get more comfortable with stocks, you can use other investing techniques as well.

But whatever you do, don't delay. The longer you wait, the bigger the hole you'll dig yourself. Acting now gives you the best chance to solve your retirement problems before they grow to massive proportions.

Read more about a healthy retirement:

Our Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter will help you calm your nerves, with lots of investment advice, savings tips, and much more. Take a look with a free 30-day trial; click here now to get started.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger often frets but rarely panics. He doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. Novartis AG is a Motley Fool Global Gains recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Fool's disclosure policy is panic-proof.