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When's the best time to plan for retirement? The answer might surprise you

Once you know when to start, it's time to begin asking where and how. Here are some tips from a financial advisor on how to live comfortably after you retire.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Planning for retirement is something we all need to do. But how soon should you begin making some of those big decisions?

Believe it or not, the best time to plan your retirement is when you’re in your 20s or 30s. You might have that first job, or you're getting married and maybe starting a family.

Where to start? It's important to learn to live within your means.

One thing you can control is your spending. 

Stay out of credit card debt. That takes discipline. Then, begin saving money; even a little bit. 

If you’re leaving it for 30-to-40 years, it’s going to grow. Better said than done, especially when you’re raising kids and paying for college. 

Tom Lindsay has been a financial advisor for 18 years at Savage and Associates.

“What I always tell young people, the most important thing that you can start off with is building up money in the bank," Lindsay said. "Find a comfortable number there, getting that money working for you a little bit and then that is when it goes into the investment area into retirement planning.”

Lindsay recommends getting into a 401K at work and investing up to the company match. That’s free money a lot of people miss out on. 

Other options are to open up an IRA or even savings not earmarked for retirement. That's something that can grow and do the work for you. 

The other thing you don’t always think about is life insurance to protect your family’s well-being.

“If something happens to you or your spouse you’ve got a huge emotional loss, your world turned upside down and now you’ve got these questions to face: 'Can I stay in the house? Can I continue to find all expenses associated with our kids?'" Lindsay said.

If you wait later to begin planning retirement, it’s okay. It just takes a different approach. 

The IRS allows a bigger investment into your 401K. You can also work longer, or even delay taking Social Security. 

The goal here is to live comfortably in retirement.