Unfortunately these days, we're not surprised when we read thatmost Americans aren't saving enough for retirement or that they aren't even sure howmuch they will need to do it. It's all too clear that America has asaving problem that could lead to a serious financial crisis. In2009, our research on employees' financial issues found that 86 percentof total users of our online Financial Learning Center had no ideawhether they were on track to retire. That percentage is disturbingto anyone concerned about America's financial future, fromeducators like us, to plan sponsors like your clients, and planproviders like you.

April is Financial Literacy Month, but it isn't only importantto financial educators. For plan providers, it's an opportunity topromote retirement savings education to participants. Manyemployees aren't sure where to begin or exactly what they should beplanning for. You can provide some essential retirement planningguidance to help employees save more and become more educated.

When we plan for retirement, we sometimes forget about the "whatif's" that can turn our plans upside down if they come unforeseen.Below are some that participants should consider when laying outtheir retirement plan:

  • Taxes may be higher in retirement. Encourageplan participants to consider putting money in tax-free vehiclessuch as Roth IRAs or Roth 401(k)s if they feel their taxes will rise inretirement.
  • The stock market drops--again. Participantshave probably already considered this scenario but they can testtheir portfolios to find its breaking point. How much could theysustain in losses and still reach their retirement goals? You canhelp them plan for the worst by helping them be prepared if it wereto happen in, or just before, retirement.
  • They have a major unexpected expense. Healthcare alone can eat up a large portion of a retirement nest egg, sohelping plan participants understand these costs and how to preparefor them will make a huge impact on their savings. Help themdetermine how big of an emergency they can handle withoutsacrificing their dream retirement.

It's never fun to think about what could go wrong, but thismonth, you can educate participants and sponsors about the "whatif's" so they can ensure their retirement really is everything theydream it will be.

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