To err is human, but some mistakes are worse than others, and slip-ups that occur while you're planning for retirement can come back to haunt you financially.
1. Saving too little. It seems obvious, but not setting aside enough money could become a big problem if you underestimate the amount you'll need to live on—all the more likely as life expectancies continue to rise. So if your employer offers a 401(k) plan with matching contributions, try to take full advantage of it, even though your take-home pay will be reduced by deferrals. And you can supplement these savings with IRA contributions.
2. Starting too late. From the start of your career there are many financial priorities competing for a share of your salary. You may be saving to buy a home or to put your kids through school. Yet while early contributions to a retirement plan can produce outsized benefits, you may be able to make up for lost time if you put as much as the law allows into your retirement savings. For 2017, the maximum 401(k) deferral is $18,000 or $24,000 if you're age 50 or over. The IRA limit is $5,500 or $6,500 if age 50 or over. You also might decide to work a few years longer than you'd originally planned. That can boost your savings while reducing the length of your retirement.