Do you work for the weekend? In other words, is your Monday through Friday 9 to 5 routine in place just so you can kick back on Saturday and Sunday? Nothing wrong with that. However, we should also be working for our retirement. Technically, we all take a job in the hopes that someday we won’t ever have to work again. That would mean retiring as early as possible but still living comfortably. You’ve got to engage in serious retirement planning to accomplish that goal. Here are some helpful tips to get you ready for your golden years:

Tip #1: Start Saving Today

No matter how old you are, you need to start saving for retirement today. With retirement savings, you have two basic options: an employee plan or DIY. Here’s a hint: you should have both. The employee plan is typically a 401K with your company setting aside funds regularly. Sounds nice, but actually, you’ve earned those funds as part of your salary, so it’s not like a total bonus. The great thing about 401Ks is that you can contribute as well. In fact, you should match your employer’s contribution dollar for dollar.

On the do-it-yourself side, you can open up an IRA. The maximum you can contribute to this tax-free account is $5,500. If you make that contribution for 20 years, you’ll have a nice nest egg of around $110,000. Not too shabby.

Tip #2: Making Your Savings Automatic

Thanks to the marvels of modern online banking, you can set up automatic deductions into a savings account. This is sort of like, “paying yourself first,” which is as it should be. After a while, you’ll forget this is happening until you look at your bank statement and see what a nice bundle you’re building.

Tip #3: Get Out Of Debt

Yes, easier said than done but the last thing you want to carry into your retirement is your debt. This might take a bite out of those savings plans, but ultimately you’ll benefit if you can knock out those payments and reduce high-interest rates. This is especially true on things like department stores and bank credit cards. Make them vanish, and you’ll have an easier retirement.

Tip #4: Try To Grow Your Money

This is where you should bring in help from a professional financial planner. Wouldn’t it be nice if you bought Apple stock 30 years ago? Your retirement would all be set. Although you might not be able to get on the ground floor of the next big thing, you can set up a money market account that spreads an investment over several stock and mutual fund options. Getting your money to grow could make all the difference for your retirement.