Secrets to planning for a successful retirement

DETROIT (WXYZ) - We all have dreams for retirement, laying a beach, traveling the world, watching our grandkids grow up, but the only way that's going to happen is if we plan now.

Retirement may be in the distant future or it may be next week but the key to enjoying it starting early.

"There are young people right now who won't get a pension. It's going to be interesting.  If someone doesn't leave them money, I don't know how to make it," says Ellis Liddell of ELE Wealth Management .

For most of us, not making it is simply not an option.

So what can we do?

Consumer Reports got six secrets straight from successful retirees.

They include:

1. Staying in a job that has a defined benefit pension plan
2. Maximizing your 401(k) contributions while working
3. Buying instead of renting
4. Paying off mortgages before retirement
5. Starting to plan at an early age
6. Living modestly without spending beyond their means.

"Many people who are in the 50s grew up watching robin leach lifestyles of the rich and famous and their goal was one day to be rich and famous. And unfortunately the people start living way beyond their means," says Liddell.

A better idea is to start saving, even if it's just a little bit.

Liddell says, "Let's just say the person average saves just 5% somehow a year.  Over a 20 year period of time, your money will double two or three times."

For Liddell, consulting a financial planner is essential.

"You have to have somebody who becomes you money's conscience."

Paying off your biggest debt, like mortgage and car payments, can set you up for an ideal retirement.

"Because here's the thing that's interesting- a 75-year-old on social security can live better than a 40-year-old working and making 80,000 a year," says Liddell.

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