How to Beef Up Your Retirement Plan

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Albert Einstein probably didn't call compound interest "the most powerful force in the universe," but personal finance advisers keep yelling at us all to believe it. Saving for retirement can seem ridiculous when we're young, especially when many of us are still staggering under student debt and housing costs. But it'll pay off when we're older, and if you're lucky enough to have an employer who helps with retirement planning, you might be able to supercharge your 401(k).

One expert from the University of Missouri is looking into it more deeply. According to professor of personal financial planning Rui Yao, we're leaving all kinds of money on the table when we think we're off the hook for retirement planning. In short, when we think an adviser hired by our employer is managing our retirement planning, we set it and forget it. Unfortunately, those plans aren't always the best plans for us.

"Some advisers are incentivized to market different funds, and while they are financial experts, they do not always have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients," said Yao. "They are required by law to disclose this information, so it's absolutely okay — and advisable — for plan participants to ask their employer what kind of legal responsibility the plan adviser bears."

If you're antsy about getting into the retirement savings game, just remember that it doesn't need to mean committing yourself to poverty-level paychecks. Good savings plans for cash-strapped millennials are out there. The best thing you can do for yourself is to muscle up on your financial literacy and know how to ask the right questions — and push back.