Stan Hinden, author of ‘How to Retire Happy,’ at the panel. (Jeffrey MacMillan/The Washington Post)

This is part of the Post Live panel discussion ‘Kitchen Table Economics,’ held April 16 at The Washington Post. View other videos from the discussion here.

Stan Hinden

Author; former Washington Post financial writer

I think the priority when it comes to retirement is advance planning. I like to think of retirement and preparing for retirement much as you would prepare for a long trip overseas. You do a lot of things if you’re going to make a trip. You would find out what the weather is going to be, where you’re going, what you’re going to see, what the currency exchanges are. Essentially, you do a lot of preparation, a lot of planning. I think the one element that is so often neglected is the question of planning and finding out what retirement is going to be about.

I’m not surprised to hear that a lot of people essentially have never focused on those subjects even though they’re getting pretty close to retirement. My pitch is that people really need to think about planning for retirement, finding out what they need to know.

The age at which people should start to save seriously is usually, I would say, in their late 20s where they have jobs and they’re getting married and raising families.

That is the precise time when if you start to save even a small amount regularly, 20 years down the road that’s going to be very important.