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What Millennials know, don't know and should know about saving for retirement

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(BPT) - While it’s never a good idea to make blanket assumptions about any group of people, Millennials, in particular, are defying stereotypes. Take, for example, the convention that holds young people are too busy spending their income to think about retirement. A recent survey by Prudential Financial indicates this is far from true of Millennials – Americans born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s.

While their retirement days may be in their distant future, planning for those years is very much on their minds, the survey revealed. In fact, 81 percent of those surveyed agreed that saving for retirement is a must, even during a recession. Seventy-three percent say they are highly motivated to save for retirement now, and nearly half (42 percent) check their existing retirement accounts at least once a month.

“Saving for retirement ranks highly in this generation’s list of financial priorities, and we are encouraged that these younger workers are taking responsibility for their future,” says George Castineiras, senior vice president of Total Retirement Solutions for Prudential Financial. “This survey demonstrates that Millennial workers prioritize saving for retirement ahead of leisure spending, saving for a vacation or even a house.”

Still, the survey also indicates Millennials need more overall knowledge and tools to help them with their retirement planning. Castineiras offers some tips for young workers thinking about their retirement savings:

When you see a chance, take it – If your employer offers 401(k) participation, take part and contribute the maximum allowable. This is especially valuable if your employer matches any part of your contribution. The Prudential study found that, when presented with an opportunity to save for retirement, Millennials take advantage of it: 63 percent of those eligible to participate in employer-sponsored plans do so, contributing an average of 7 percent of their annual salaries.

Take advantage of technology – Retirement calculators are a great way to understand how much you need to save now in order to have the income – and lifestyle – you desire in retirement. Calculators abound online and most are free. To download Prudential’s mobile retirement income calculator, go to the app store or go to the Google play store and type "Retirement Income Calculator" in the search field.

Talk it out with those in the know – Discuss retirement planning with your grandparents and parents. There’s no better way to understand the realities of retirement than by talking with those who are living it. Seek their insight into what they feel they did right and what they would do differently. Watching older loved ones struggle financially can be an eye-opener; 83 percent of those surveyed said that seeing what can happen to people who don’t save enough for retirement makes them want to save more.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help – It pays to educate yourself on retirement planning, but the reality is few of us will ever become experts on the subject. Talking to an experienced, knowledgeable advisor can help make your retirement planning efforts easier and more effective. Companies like Prudential Financial can deliver retirement planning solutions to help younger workers be well prepared to face retirement.

“Millennials are embracing the need for retirement planning,” Castineiras says. “With the right kind of preparation and professional guidance, young workers can get and stay on the path to future financial security.”

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