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The Financial Reality of Retirement

A great deal has been written about the problems of retirement. After working for anything up to and beyond four decades everyone deserves a comfortable retirement. As life expectancy increases that may be another couple of decades, even more. The question arises about how to finance those years of retirement. Much of what is written today focuses on the lack of provision Americans are making for retirement. There is a Social Security System paying monthly benefits from as early as 62 year old yet these benefits were never designed to fully finance retirement. They are totally inadequate for doing so and too few are saving sufficient money to live the lives they hoped for after retirement. Debt Is an Issue It is difficult for anyone to predict how much they will need to live comfortably in retirement. Although people are living longer the cost of medical care increases by the year and inevitably as people age they are likely to face more bills. One thing that everyone should avoid is going into retirement with high interest debt. The obvious example of this is the credit card. Too many Americans have balances that attract high interest at each month end. Card ...

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How to Fully Fund an IRA When You Have No Extra Money

saving for retirement

Everyone knows how important it is to save for the future but sadly, about half of families in the U.S. have nothing set aside for retirement. Whether it’s lack of access to an employer sponsored retirement plan, stagnant wages, or the lure of instant gratification that makes paychecks disappear, it’s clear that Americans are not saving enough. No one can make companies offer 401(k) plans, and it isn’t always possible to control what a job pays, but there are other ways to fund retirement, even when you seem to have no extra money. Set up an IRA If you’re job does not offer a retirement plan, it’s very easy to set up an IRA. I personally like Betterment for beginners because you won’t have to choose funds or rebalance, but there are many low cost brokerages that will allow you to open an account with no minimum. For 2016, IRA contribution limits are $5,500 with an extra $1,000 catch up contribution allowed if you are over age 50. A Roth IRA offers no tax benefits upfront, but any money deposited can grow and be withdrawn tax free after age 59 and a half. Singles earning less than $117,000 and married ...

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It’s Never Too Late to Invest for Retirement

get started on investing for retirement

While we’ve made our share of financial mistakes, I’m always amazed when I run across someone my age or older who has nothing saved for retirement. Considering that a third of workers have less than $1,000 saved for the future, I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising. The good news is that it’s never too late to invest for retirement. Even if you might never be a millionaire, that doesn’t mean all hope of a decent retirement is out of reach. Figure Our How Much You Need to Live On Determining how much money you need to retire is certainly a million dollar question. Most retirement calculators assume  you’ll need 70-80 percent of your current income and won’t let you add savings rates greater than 20-25 percent. My favorite retirement calculator is the one from Personal Capital. At least it lets you add and subtract variables more easily than the rest I’ve tried. You can actually get a ballpark on your own by determining how much you spend per year now and apply that to retirement years. Some costs like health care will likely increase while others, like clothing and transportation, should decrease. If you have kids, hopefully those expenses ...

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Ways to Save for Retirement When You Don’t Have an Employer Plan

choices for retirement plans

Last week we talked about having a retirement savings wake up call, which is a very important first step in preparing for the future. It’s pretty easy to save for retirement when you have access to an employer sponsored plan, but what about those who are self employed or work for a company that doesn’t offer retirement? Luckily, there are several smart and simple choices for setting up a retirement plan on your own. Can’t I Just Save Money Without a Plan? Of course, if you’re willing to save lots and lots of money. The beauty of having a tax deferred or tax advantaged retirement plan is the ability to save on taxes, now or in the future, plus growing money through the wonderful benefit of compound interest. Without those two things, you’ll need to save much more money to have enough for retirement after paying Uncle Sam up front and from later earnings. To see how much you’ll need to save, try out the free retirement calculator from Personal Capital. Traditional IRA Anyone can open a traditional IRA. If you or your spouse aren’t covered by a retirement plan at work, your entire contribution is tax deductible. If an ...

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Retirement Savings Wake Up Call

choosing to save for retirement

I read an interesting article in response to a question about the need for a retirement savings wake up call. I’ve always enjoyed advice columns, even though I realize they should be viewed more as entertainment than fact. Just like with reality shows; boring and normal don’t make for great entertainment. Anyhow, this letter was from a father nearing retirement age who was facing a financial conundrum because he knew he and his wife didn’t have adequate retirement savings, yet he wanted to help his pregnant daughter with her own financial crisis. You can read the entire letter and response. I don’t think the semantics are that important, but what did strike me was the advice columnist’s take on why people can’t save for retirement, a thought many of us have probably had at one time or another. “Man, we spend too much on stuff we don’t need. Oh well, as long as we figure this out by retirement, we’ll be OK. It’s not like it affects us right now. Don’t Think It Can’t Happen to You Bam! That’s exactly why, at one time, we couldn’t stop ourselves from spending too much to make retirement savings a priority. We hadn’t had ...

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