Senior man looking sad © George Doyle, Stockbyte, Getty Images

When it comes to retirement problems, easy answers are in short supply. As a result, many Americans are concerned about whether they'll be able to retire comfortably.

But if you're willing to accept that painless solutions can't fix them all, there is still hope for easing your retirement worries. Here are some of today's most common retirement anxieties, along with approaches to solving them.

Worry No. 1: Outliving your money

Only in retirement planning is a long life considered a risk. When it comes to the difficulty of making your money last, the task gets more complicated the longer you live.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, since 1950, the average life span of Americans has increased by 14.8%. Over that same period, savings rates have declined by 40.8%. That math just doesn't add up to sound retirement savings.

There are three possible solutions to this:

  1. Plan on retiring later. This is can be a powerful solution, because it gives you a chance to both grow your savings over a longer period and shorten the number of retirement years you have to fund. It is not a foolproof solution, though, because declining health or economic factors may prevent you from working as long as you would like.
  2. Start saving earlier. For older workers, this ship has already sailed, but younger workers should keep in mind that the sooner they start saving, the more they can tip the balance between saving years and retirement years in their favor.
  3. Save more. It takes sacrifice to increase your savings rate, but it's better to sacrifice voluntarily now than to have sacrifices forced on you in retirement.

Worry No. 2: Not being ready when retirement comes

Between delays in building retirement saving and economic setbacks, many middle-aged workers find themselves fast approaching retirement with nowhere near as much money accumulated as they need. If you don't have many years until you reach retirement age, raising your savings rate or improving investment returns is only going to make an incremental difference. The two main solutions you should focus on are:

  1. Plan on retiring later. See the above discussion for the pros and cons of this approach.
  2. Lower your spending target. This will mean a lower standard of living in retirement, but it's better to spread a little belt-tightening over your entire retirement than to suddenly face an extreme hardship when you run out of money.

Worry No. 3: Disappointing investment returns

The stock market has produced lackluster results for more than a decade. Most savings account interest rates are near zero, and bond yields aren't much better. Here are three ways to fight back:

  1. Shop for higher savings account rates. has consistently found that the best interest rates on savings accounts are four or five times the average rate.
  2. Take full advantage of tax-deferred retirement programs. In particular, make the most of employer-sponsored plans with a company match, because these provide an instant return on your investment.
  3. Save more. It's sad to say, but the financial markets are not going to do the heavy lifting when it comes to retirement saving today. You have to do it yourself.

While worrying can be useful for raising your awareness of a problem, it can also create a feeling of hopelessness that prevents action. By focusing on the solutions to your retirement worries -- rather than the worries themselves -- you may find what it takes to conquer them both.

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