Saving to make your retirement years golden

Work demands often postpone tackling the bucket list until retirement. But have you even thought about how you will pay for it without a paycheck?

There's the{}also possible additional cost of assisted living or nursing home care. That could cost over one hundred thousand dollars a year.

An investment planner says it's never too early to start saving.

Diane Tucker isn't usually behind the desk. The{}UAB professor is often advising her students on saving.

"They use the term- pay yourself first, to be putting aside money that never comes home. That's part of your cushion and{}I think that's key," she said.

But on some nights, she's{}a student learning about retirement finances at Samford University's Samford after Sunset program.

"I want to understand the rules that apply to the investments I've made and to have a sense of what{}I need to do in these last few years to make sure we can have the lifestyle we want," she said.

But wants aren't needs. There is no crystal ball to show you what kind of care will be needed.

In Birmingham, retirement communities often cost{}a few thousand dollars a month for room, activities and some meals. The average nursing home will cost roughly 63,510{}dollars a year.{}Assisted living averages 37,812 dollars annually. All those figures are well below the national average.

"The magic of being ready for retirement is nothing more than accumulating money over a long period of time," said Stuart Benjamin, an investment planner and long time teacher of the Samford after Sunset course.

Benjamin says saving should begin the moment you walk out of school and into the first job. There are rules to follow- have a plan, revisit it and stick to it no matter what.

"A{}good number for retirement is try to replicate or prepare for 80 percent of what you are spending today," said Benjamin.

Benjamin says adjust that figure for inflation and that's your goal.

He{}recommends investing in{}a 401k or the qualified plan offered at work.

"Most of the time you're getting an employer match. It's tax deductible and it's tax deferred," Benjamin explained.

Life insurance policies can also help. Medicare will cover some nursing home, hospice and home health care. Medicaid will do the same for low income seniors. But there's also long term care insurance to help if you become disabled or need help with every day activities.

Tucker and her husband will consider all the options as they make plans to live twenty, thirty years{}or even longer without paychecks.

"As long as we are reasonable and don't do anything extravagant, we'll have the type of lifestyle we've hoped," she said.

There's{}often changes to government programs and even insurance available to cover senior care.

Benjamin says the best way to plan is to speak with an advisor.