If you are a married couple, age 65, your joint life expectancy is around 93 (50/50 chance one of the two will live to 93). If you are an educated, white collar worker, it’s probably higher. One of you may make it to 100, so you should plan for needing about 3 decades of retirement income. And due to inflation your real living costs will rise considerable over 3 decades, not to mention un-reimbursed healthcare expenses. Further there will be less dependence on government entitlements and corporate benefits.
For example, in 1985, out of the 100 largest companies in the U.S. 89% offered their employees a guaranteed pension in retirement, by 2002 it is only 50% and by 2010 only 16%
For better or worse the 401-k will be the most practical way to fund for this kind of retirement. Almost anyone can have a 401k. If you work for a large or mid size company you probably have one - (if not, give me a call) and if you’re lucky a match from your employer as well. Small companies can easily set one up and even if you are self employed you can start a Single K.
Finally, don’t forget about the ROTH feature, where you can contribute after tax dollars but the income that comes out – maybe for 30 years or more - is all tax free!