Retirement Planning: What You Can Do To Retire In Good Financial Shape

by Joseph · 1 comment

in Personal Finance

Today I’m featuring a guest post about retirement planning.  Stay tuned next week for some great updates including a new Friday Book Club and the continuation of my Investing for Beginners series.

Where do you want to be when you retire? Will you be on an island in the Bahamas? Working in a different field? Or simply enjoying your spouse? Ninety-five percent of Americans have fears about retirement and 42% feel they will run out of money entirely, according to a 2005 study by NAVA. Just as you wouldn’t go on vacation without an itinerary or a budget, you shouldn’t run toward your retirement blind. With the right plan, retirement planning can be a breeze.

When you’re first getting started, you’ll want to envision how you want your retirement to be. While you’ll be saving money on gas and eating on-the-run, remember that there will be additional expenses — notably healthcare — as you age. Check with the Social Security Administration to find out what your benefits will be. Go over your employer’s retirement and 401k plan. After realistic considerations, you may want to consult a retirement planning calculator.

Some feel most comfortable using retirement planning software. Forbes Magazine recommends Quicken Retirement Planner ($59), Morningstar ($125) and ESPlanner Plus ($199). This option allows you the time and a no-pressure approach to examining your options independently. If you like having things explained in person, you can ask your banker, life insurance agent, investment broker, accountant or attorney for advice. To avoid the hassle, retirement planning services are another avenue, although most places charge around $200 per consultation.

Don’t rely on social security! Social security only provides for approximately one-third of the average American’s retirement plan. Instead, focus on your 401k as the bulk of your retirement savings and invest as much as possible. Consider annuities as a great supplemental retirement plan. Remember, tax-efficient options are increasingly crucial in saving up that nest egg.

Contribute the maximum on your 401k! Putnam Funds did a study in 2005 that found if you earned $40,000 in 1990 saving 2% of your salary, you’d have $40,000 by 2005. However, if had you saved 6% of your salary, your return would have tripled!

Beware of inflation! Ronald Reagan once warned, “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit man.” Many people forget to factor inflation into their retirement planning. Consider that a $60,000/year lifestyle will cost you $80,635 in ten years and double that in thirty years! Your investment returns should be high enough to cover this pitfall. Most pensions and social security account for inflation and adjust accordingly; however, if you plan to dip into savings accounts or investments, your money will decrease in value over time.

While it may seem overwhelming at first, all the tools are available to make your retirement planning less tedious. Whether it’s a retirement planning service and personal consultant or retirement planning software, you’ll find answers. You can leave the investments up to a trustee who will take the guesswork out or you may choose to take a more active role in your investments. Your best bet is to start now and make a variety of investments to ensure your golden years are truly the best.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Isabella Coldivar November 12, 2008 at 4:04 pm

Great blog! Retiring in good financial state is so important these days! The current state of the economy has made things hard for a lot of boomers who are having to delay their retirement or even return from retirement and back to a job. It’s never too early to start planning — and with tips like this from your blog, there’s no excuse not to!

Also, keep in mind the one company that will be there to help you out as you ease down the road to retirement on your way to enjoying your golden years…

AARP is a great source of services and information that can be beneficial to the quality of life. What’s great about AARP is that a membership comes with prescription and travel discounts!

AARP has teamed up with talk show host, Cristina Saralegui and made a fun, customizable video and you’re just a click away from being the next guest on Amigos Live! Check out to learn more and make your own video!

Also, you can enter to win an all inclusive trip for 2 to Miami while you’re checking out the site! (And even if you don’t win, there’s still those great travel discounts that come with the membership!)

Definitely check out AARP for yourself or a loved one. There are really are some great benefits to joining!

I hope it’s alright that I commented on your blog — wanted to let you know about the fun video with Cristina and AARP’s great benefits. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to email me.

Isabella Coldivar
AARP Ambassador


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