When should I begin saving for retirement? How much money should I save? How much is enough, particularly if I’ve always been a profligate spendthrift and now have that officially embossed on my business card?

These are questions many people ask as they approach their golden years, particularly if they haven’t managed to buy any gold, which is at an all-time high, and instead spent all their savings on ice cream sandwiches, which are at an affordable low.

No matter what age you are, though, retirement planning is something you should do, mainly because everybody has been shouting at you for years saying that it is something you should do.

But where to start? As a Certified Financial Illiterate (CFI), I can offer you the answers to some of the most common questions about retirement planning.

When should I retire?

Are you tired? Do it again, see what happens.

When should I start saving for retirement?

Let’s face it, you should have started earlier. If you had started saving when you were 21, say, by now you’d have so much money you could be in Paris drinking a good Bordeaux instead of being here, drinking bad coffee and spending all your time reading retirement advice columns. But it’s never too late to start, unless it’s a weekend and everything is closed.

How much should I save?

Look at it this way: If you were to save $25 a month, for the next 62 years, including all Februarys, would you remember where you had put all the money? Would you be able to bend down and look under the bed? And then bend back up? Or could all that money be in your wallet, which would explain the hole in your back pocket?

There is, fortunately, a mathematical formula to figure out how much you should save. It involves an algorithm. No one, unfortunately, really knows what that is.

What if I’m near retirement and running out of time to save?

You can always set your clock ahead 15 minutes and then be happily surprised that it’s not as late as you thought it was. Or wait for Daylight Savings Time.

What should I do with the money I save?

There are several possibilities. You could use the money to buy really good wines, fancy cars and trips to exotic locales. Or you could waste it. You also could invest it in the stock market, which could turn out to be pretty much the same thing.

Just remember that past performance is no guarantee of future performance unless the past performance is really bad.

What’s a Roth IRA?

Named after the novelist Philip Roth, this is a financial vehicle that lets you buy as many copies of “Portnoy’s Complaint” as you’d like.

Will Social Security be around for me when I retire?

It may be around, but you will have to look carefully for it. It could be lost in that closet in the kids’ old bedroom, right behind the recorder your daughter got in sixth grade and never played again.

Who should I trust for retirement advice?

Probably not me.

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