When to save for retirement? Right now<p></p>

Published Jan. 19, 2014

A secure retirement requires planning, no matter how modest your expectations. If you're getting a late start, here are some helpful ideas:

• "Tax Guy" Bill Bischoff says in this post that making "catchup" contributions to a 401(k), IRA or similar tax-advantaged retirement account can significantly increase your savings. In many cases, catch-up payments for the 2013 tax year are allowed through April 15 for people who were at least 50 years old by the end of 2013. Check with your employer to see if catchup contributions are allowed in your company's 401(k) plan.

• Here is an IRS page on catchup contributions to the various types of retirement accounts:

• Beefing up savings after age 50 is a challenge that could require you to examine your expenses closely. "Cycle through all your expenses and try not having certain costs for a month," suggests David Ning at "You never know how one decision can change other parts of your life. You could save money and have more fun at the same time."

• Prepare for retirement by learning some basics about investing, says this guide posted by the U.S. Department of Labor. It might not be enough to rely on a company pension. "Know how your savings or pension plan is invested," the guide says. "Learn about your plan's investment options and ask questions. Put your savings in different types of investments. By diversifying this way, you are more likely to reduce risk and improve return."

• The headline screams: "Help! I'm in my late 40s, with no retirement savings." In this post, writer Walter Updegrave offers some first moves to tardy savers. Your first, he says, is probably to open an IRA at a mutual-fund company and fund it for the previous year, which you are allowed to do until tax day. And don't despair, says Updegrave: "So if you get started now — and I mean pronto — you can still dramatically improve your retirement prospects and avoid ending up dependent on Social Security alone after you retire."