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The Top Ten Ways to Prepare for Retirement

by Dan Groteboer

The Top Ten Ways to Prepare for Retirement

Planning for retirement, usually a major financial concern for those over age 40, has become even more prevalent now that the huge postwar baby boom generation is moving through middle age.

Various surveys indicate that preparing for retirement already ranks as a primary financial goal. A recent survey of mutual fund shareholders showed that 40% ranked retirement planning as their most important financial objective, and two-thirds considered it "very important."

The studies reveal that people not only look forward to retirement, but many also expect to retire early. In addition, retirees are apt to live longer as improvements in health care extend life expectancy. People retiring at age 60 today are expected to live another 25 years, or more than half of the length of their working careers. This makes the challenge of accumulating enough money for retirement even more difficult, since these savings may have to last longer and there will be less time to earn them.

While it's clear that retirement planning has become a leading financial goal, the big question is whether people will be financially prepared to retire when they want to.

1. Know your retirement needs.

Retirement is expensive. Experts estimate that you'll need about 70% of your pre-retirement income- for lower earners, 90% or more - to maintain your standard of living when you stop working. Understand your financial future.

2. Find out about benefits.

Contact the appropriate government department of labor/human resource office in your area to obtain details on payment rates.

3. Learn about your employer's pension or profit sharing plan.

If your employer offers a plan, check to see what your benefit is worth. Most employers will provide an individual benefit statement if you request one. Before you change jobs, find out what will happen to your pension. Learn what benefits you may have from previous employment.

4. Contribute to a tax-sheltered savings plan.

If your employer offers a tax sheltered savings plan, sign up and contribute all you can. Your taxes will be lower, your company may kick in more, and automatic deductions make it easy. Over time, deferral of taxes and compounding of interest make a big difference in the amount of money you will accumulate.

5. Ask your employer to start a plan.

If your employer doesn't offer a retirement plan, suggest that it start one. Simplified plans can be set up by certain employers.

6. Start your own Retirement Savings.

You can put money aside and delay paying taxes on investment earnings until retirement age. It's never too late to start.

7. Don't touch your savings.

Don't dip into your retirement savings. You'll lose principal and interest, and you may lose tax benefits.

8. Start now, set goals, and stick to them.

Start early. The sooner you start saving, the more time your money has to grow. Put time on your side. Make retirement saving a high priority. Devise a plan, stick to it, and set goals for yourself. Remember, it's never too late to start. Start saving now, whatever your age.

9. Consider basic investment principles.

How you save can be as important as how much you save. Inflation and the type of investments you make play important roles in how much you'll have saved at retirement. Know how your pension or savings plan is invested. Financial security and knowledge go hand in hand.

10. Ask questions.

These tips should point you in the right direction, but you'll need more information. Talk to your employer, your bank, your union, or a financial advisor. Ask questions and make sure the answers make sense to you. Get practical advice and act now.

Living a Successful Life

by Dan Groteboer
It really is time to change our thinking and create a successful life for ourselves. How often do we carry the baggage from the life stories of those around us? Don't we have enough of our own! 

As women, I think we do this all the time. We take on all the issues and challenges of those that are close to us, especially our children, but also our friends, co-workers and certainly our spouses. We need to get over it!

It's like this. You know those mornings where your son/daughter has a problem and doesn't want to go to school for some reason, and we send them anyways and churn all day long, wondering how they're doing and if you made the right decision, gave them the right advice. You can't wait to see them went they get home and are eager to find out how it went, how they dealt with it and if they are okay. When you ask they stare at you blankly, not sure what you are talking about. When prompted, they reply something like - Oh yea , that , yea, no problem. In fact they left it all at the door and in our bellies and went swimmingly along in their day, as we deliberated, worried and sighed. Our children are certainly doing a really good job of living their own lives, and they are way better at it than us.

Taking on the responsibility of other peoples problems, even if they are our children does absolutely nothing for anyone. There is a very important lesson here, that any of us, parents, entrepreneurs, professionals in any business can learn. The best thing that we can do to support others in our lives that are having challenges is to live our own lives fully and live a successful life.

When our children look at us, we want them to see in us what we aspire for in them. And the same holds true for those around us. When we take ownership of our lives, we set a glorious example for those around us.
Author:  Jacqui Markowitz

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