Expert details the 'key to long-term retirement savings'

The most important step in retirement planning is simply getting started, one financial expert shared in a conversation with Yahoo Finance.

“The key to long-term retirement savings is just starting with any amount and signing up for your employer’s program,” said Harry Dalessio, head of institutional retirement plan services at Prudential Financial. “So you potentially have the opportunity to get a match.”

Dalessio’s comments come when nearly a quarter of Americans don’t have any retirement savings, according to the Federal Reserve. But even among those who do, 3 in 5 have little or no comfort managing their investments.

Confusion is ‘relatively common’

Confusion over the differences among retirement accounts is also “relatively common,” Dalessio said. But an adviser or financial firm should have educational materials to help guide you, he said.


Read more: 401k plan and how it works: The full breakdown

That means new retirement savers shouldn’t get hung up on the differences between traditional 401(k)s that require pre-tax contributions and Roth 401(k)s that are funded by post-tax dollars.

“The first part is just to save,” Dalessio said, “pre or post tax.”

Young couple and bank manager reading financial reports while having a meeting in the office.
The first step to retirement saving is to just start, according to one financial expert. (Photo: Getty Creative)

The most common questions

One of the two most common questions, according to Dalessio, is “just how do I get started?”

“So, life gets in the way of savings,” said Dalessio who noted that Americans are juggling not just saving for retirement but other financial goals and challenges as well, such as coming up with a budget, paying down student debt, and creating an emergency fund.

Read more: Retirement planning: Everything you need to know

That’s why many employers are turning to financial wellness programs to help Americans get a handle on all their money concerns and not just saving for retirement.

“Start with a bigger financial picture rather than taking a more siloed approach,” Dalessio said.

The other popular question is: “What do I do?”

Female financial advisor in discussion with mature female business owner at desk in office
A financial advisor or firm can help you figure out how much to save for retirement and how to invest, one expert said. (Photo: Getty Creative)

Dalessio said people want to know where they should put their money and how much do they need to save for an adequate retirement. Fortunately, there are many more resources and tools available to guide people along the way.

“Because most people are savers, not investors,” he said.

Dhara is a writer for Yahoo Money and Cashay, a new personal finance website. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @dsinghx.

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