Today, Americans are faced with endless uncertainty, like what’s ahead for the tax code, health care and Social Security, to name a few. But removing some uncertainty surrounding retirement is an obtainable goal all Americans can strive to achieve.

The retirement crisis has become a staple in our country’s rhetoric, and it has escalated in recent years due to steadily growing life expectancies, two recessions and almost a decade of sluggish economic growth, according to At the same time, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) points to the declining number of employers offering retirement plans after decades of growth. Given the current environment, the media, researchers, economists and others are raising the red flag, calling on Americans to carefully examine their retirement preparedness plans to ensure they are saving enough.

Despite the growing spotlight on retirement planning and the definite possibility of reaching financial certainty in retirement, individuals are taking little to no action when it comes to planning for their future. New data released in October from the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council (IALC), of which I serve as Executive Director, shows that most Americans are only adding to an uncertain future by either not creating a financially secure retirement plan or, even worse, not saving for retirement at all. More than half of Americans admitted they do not have a retirement plan that will carry them through their golden years, voicing concern they may outlive their retirement savings. One in five reported having absolutely nothing saved for retirement.

Americans, regardless of age, must take steps to ensure financially stable retirements — ones that allow them to alleviate uncertainty while crossing items off their bucket lists and simultaneously managing essential costs of living.

A potential contributing factor behind retirement planning uncertainty is that Americans are not self-assured, particularly when it comes to researching their available options and how much they need to be saving for retirement. In fact, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), just 18% of Americans say they are confident in their retirement savings. Meanwhile, roughly one-third aren’t certain of how much they will need in retirement to cover even basic living expenses.

It’s hard to achieve retirement certainty when you aren’t confident in your planning abilities and don’t know where to turn for more information. However, there is good news for those struggling to prepare for a post-work world: It’s easier than you think to increase your financial knowledge and confidence. Start with three simple steps:

1. Spend less and save more. Manage your spending by beginning to look at purchases with a more critical eye. It’s amazing the amount you will save by doing things like choosing to make a meal at home or using a coupon on an item you need. The money saved, regardless of the amount, can help you get ahead on retirement savings.

2. Make use of financial resources. Saving for retirement can seem complicated, but there are plenty of resources available at your fingertips, including tools like retirement calculators to estimate your retirement living expenses and determine your potential Social Security income.

3. Diversify your portfolio. Once you know how much you’ll need for retirement, you can evaluate your current savings plan and the products in your portfolio, assessing whether or not they are effectively working together to achieve your retirement goals. After taking a holistic view of your portfolio, you may need to diversify to maximize potential gain and minimize risk, including considering options like fixed indexed annuities that help to offer a guaranteed stream of income, no matter how long you live. A diversification strategy can ensure balance and provide retirement planning peace of mind. Investopedia sums it up well: “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. It’s really that simple.” Betting your entire retirement on a single product or product class can put you at extreme risk for an unstable retirement.

However, upping your retirement confidence doesn’t have to be all figures and calculations — it can even be entertaining. Test your knowledge and see where your retirement IQ stacks up by trying your hand at some online games and tests, like this quiz from Kiplinger, this one from AARP or even the “Master of Retirement” game created by IALC. The above steps, coupled with fun learning tools, can help you gain a better understanding of retirement needs and boost your confidence.

No matter how you educate yourself, there’s no better time than now to take control of your financial future and create peace of mind when it comes to your retirement plan. In a world of uncertainty, one thing is for sure: It’s time to make a financial move and start planning for your golden years.

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