10 secrets to successfully save for retirement

Always have an emergency fund

Stuff happens. Your car can break down, your AC unit can go out, you can get sick and have hefty health insurance deductibles.

When people don't have money to cover it, they often turn to credit cards. Others resort to tapping their retirement funds — a bad idea.

That's why saving for emergencies is important to protect your financial security. You should always maintain an emergency fund to cover life's unplanned surprises, preferably enough money to cover three to six months of living expenses.

If you don’t have that much cash now, put some retirement contributions on hold and start socking away money in a liquid, readily accessible account.

"Everyone has 'emergencies,' but when the money is available and saved in advance, the need for a new water heater seems less like an emergency," says John Pollock, a financial adviser from Allen, Texas.