It’s never too early to start planning for retirement. Even if you feel like you’re too young to be thinking about retiring, the reality is that the sooner you start making arrangements for your future retirement, the less you’ll have to worry about later, and the more relaxing and enjoyable your twilight years will be. Trying to keep track of all the financial variables that come with retirement planning can be overwhelming, but following these six simple steps will streamline the process and make it much easier for you to understand.

    Estimate When You’ll be Able to Retire

    Right now, the most common age to retire in the United States is at 62. However, a realistic retirement age varies for everyone, and depends on factors such as income, savings, and dependents. The general rule of thumb is that retirees should expect to spend between 75 and 85% of their current income once they retire. However, this estimate may fluctuate based on factors such as outstanding debt and medical expenses. In order to get a rough estimate of when you’ll likely be able to retire, consider using an online retirement income calculator.

    Take Healthcare into Consideration

    If you’re an American citizen, you’ll automatically qualify for Medicare when you turn 65. Although Medicare covers basic healthcare needs like doctor’s appointments, prescriptions, and hospital visits, other services like vision and dental services are not covered. You might want to consider a supplemental insurance policy. Of course, the rates of this supplemental insurance policy need to be factored into your retirement savings calculations.

    Factor in Social Security

    All throughout your working career, you’ve been deducting a portion of your paycheck to go towards Social Security. Once you reach full retirement age, you can begin collecting Social Security payments. The size of your payments depends on the age that you begin collecting them, the amount of time you’ve been collecting them, and the amount of money you paid towards Social Security taxes in the first place.

    Don’t Forget Debt

    The best case scenario is that you’re able to pay off most or all of your debt by the time you retire, leaving your life savings to go towards things like living expenses, traveling, and family. However, this obviously isn’t the case for everyone. When calculating your estimated retirement savings, you need to take mortgages, student loans, personal loans, and credit card debt into consideration.

    Set Up a 401(k)

    Even if you haven’t already, it’s not too late to open a retirement account. If you’re in your early twenties, it’s a great idea to take advantage of your employer’s 401(k) program. All of the funds that are deducted from your paycheck and go into your 401(k) are not taxed, and many employers choose to match whatever percentage of their employees’ income gets invested, making this a great way to save money for retirement.

    Consider a Self-Directed IRA

    A Self-Directed IRA is another great way to save for retirement while controlling your own investments. With a Self-Directed IRA, you can invest in anything from stocks to bonds to real estate to gold, giving you more avenues to grow your retirement savings. This type of account is an excellent way to play an active role in your retirement planning and take charge of your own finances.

    Planning for retirement is inevitably a lengthy, complex, and sometimes overwhelming process, with many factors that need to be taken into consideration. By following these six comprehensive steps, you can streamline the retirement planning process to the best of your ability and avoid finding yourself unprepared later in life.