Image of a person filling out paperwork. Ally branded "Retirement challenge" tag in top left corner.

We get it: Planning and saving for retirement can sound like … a lot of work. But we want to change that. Because today, you have the power to start creating a future you can be truly excited about. No matter what you dream of, whether it’s retiring early and traveling the world, climbing the ranks in your career until you’ve reached the top (perhaps shattering a glass ceiling on the way) or maybe you look forward to peaceful days with your nearest and dearest close by. Even if you aren’t so sure, you can take small steps now to set yourself on a path of financial freedom. And all you need is just 10 minutes and these four steps to get started.

Download the worksheet and follow along below.

4 minutes: Visualize the possibilities.

Grab a pen and paper, turn on a good song or just close your eyes — it’s time to visualize. Take four minutes (or more, if you’d like) to think through what you want your life to look like in retirement. At what age do you want to retire? Where do you want to live? What kind of hobbies would you like to try out? As you muse, feel free to jot down words, thoughts or even doodles — and more importantly, don’t be afraid to think big.

Visualization is a powerful tool when setting and striving toward your goals. By creating a mental picture of what you want and imagining yourself achieving these things, you can foster motivation from within.

3 minutes: Set some goals.

With the image of your incredible life in retirement top of mind, get ready to goal set. Start by taking just three minutes to write down one or two financial or retirement goals. They can be more short-term, like an amount of retirement savings you’d like to reach in the next year. Or you might set a longer-term target, like buying a vacation house in 10 years or retiring at age 45. Either way, by putting pen to paper, you’ll give yourself (and your financial future) a framework you can begin to build around.

Later on, you can add more goals to your list as well as tweak and refine the ones you have. You may even build out your ambitions to reflect the tenets of S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely). And by having them written down, you’ll always have a reference point you can return to if you need motivation.

2 minutes: Face your fears.

Perhaps you haven’t started saving for retirement. Or you feel you can do more but aren’t sure where to start.  From investing uncertainties to budget insecurities to general curiosity about why, when or how much you should save for those golden years, a number of questions or fears might be holding you back. Now is a chance to release them.

For two minutes, think about what’s keeping you from saving for retirement. Be honest with yourself — it’s a judgement-free zone. By recognizing and writing down your questions or uncertainties, you’ll be able to seek out the answers you need to feel confident in your finances.

1 minute: Calculate your current retirement standing.

Clearly you’re in the mindset to start saving for retirement. But to make a smart savings plan, you need to know where you stand currently in relation to your expected retirement age. That’s where our calculator comes in. We take a look at your current retirement savings and contributions — as well as an average rate of return per year — to get a ballpark idea of how much you’ll have when you reach your retirement age. That way you have a target in mind as you continue putting away money each year to equip yourself with a strong financial backing. Plus, the calculation only takes a minute!

Just remember, this number isn’t the end-all-be-all. Several other factors will play into how much you’ll actually need in retirement — from where you live, to your taxes, personal investment portfolio, marital status, Social Security benefits and more. So think of this as more of a guidepost than a target.

Once you’ve tried out the calculator, you can begin to determine the actionable steps you should take to stay on track with your retirement goals. That could mean …

10 Minutes Down, 100 Steps Closer

To get retirement ready, you don’t have to start by overhauling your budget or spending hours mapping out a plan. You just have to make the commitment to get serious about savings. And by taking 10 minutes to think through your goals and face the fears or doubts that have kept you from starting in the past, you’re already far closer than you were before.

Ready to take another step to save for your future?

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