Baby boomers are starting to enter retirement and the picture is not bright and sunny. If exchange traded funds (ETFs) do break into the sector, things could turn for those later generations that take advantage.

E.S. Browng for The Wall Street Journal reports that the median household headed by a person aged 60 to 62 with a 401(k) account has less than one-quarter of what is needed in that account to keep its standard of living in retirement. A general rule of thumb is that people need 85% of their working income after they retire in order to maintain their standard of living. The financial crisis made hitting those levels tough for many. [Schwab Plans To Enter The All-ETF Line Up.]

Many baby boomers now have to work more, scale back expectations and even take part-time jobs. [Sharebuilder 401(k) Adds Vanguard To The Line Up.]

Vanguard has begun urging people to contribute 12% to 15%, including the employer contribution, because of the stock market’s weak returns and uncertainty about the future of Social Security and Medicare.

If you’re concerned about this:

  • Make some noise:  ask your employer for a 401(k) plan that uses ETFs.
  • If you’re up for it, consider managing some of your own finances and put our investment tools to use. We have a variety of model portfolios that may help you maximize your potential to enjoy retirement and protect your principal.
  • Educate yourself on fees. They add up, and you could be saving yourself quite a bit of money.

Tisha Guerrero contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.