retirement-savings-tips

Having Realistic Retirement Expectations

Have you given much thought to what will happen once you’re no longer working? What pastimes or activities would you want to engage in? Will you enjoy finally being free of having to go to work every day or are you going to miss having the sense of purpose associated with full-time employment? 

Your overall happiness, wellbeing, and financial status are key points to think about at a time like this, and the tips below will go a long way in helping you set realistic expectations for this time of your life. 

  1. Don’t Assume that you’ll be Happy to Stop Working

Although everyone looks forward to the day they’ll be able to retire to some degree, not everyone is fully prepared for when they’ll wake up every day and not have to go to the office anymore. Several individuals work for many years, and suddenly having to give that up can leave them feeling empty or unfulfilled.

If you don’t stop to think about how you’ll deal with these feelings as they arise, you could find retirement to not be as enjoyable as you thought it would be. To deal with this, allow some time to think about these negative feelings and find ways to address them. For instance, if you were an accountant, consider providing your services to one or two of your existing clients each month. Over time, this will benefit you and your employer. 

  1. Know what you want from your Retirement

You need to spend a bit of time thinking about how you want your life to be after you stop working. Do you just want to relax at home or would you prefer to travel the country – or even visit other countries for part of the year? 

Knowing how you intend to spend your time is a crucial step in the retirement process, and being realistic about your financial situation, overall health and other mitigating factors will help you decide how much needs to be saved and invested beforehand to make your dreams come true. 

Keep in mind that it’s also quite normal for your retirement goals to change over time and as such, your savings and investment plans may need to be adjusted accordingly from time to time. 

  1. Get Started with Saving Now

Younger people seldom take the time to think about the amount of money they’ll need to retire, and when they do, they often make the mistake of thinking about the current cost of living – and forget to take inflation into account. When looking at how things have changed over the past decade or two, it’s safe to say that the level of inflation being experienced at the moment looks set to continue for quite a while longer. 

When planning your retirement savings, ensure that inflation is being accounted for; otherwise, you could find yourself struggling financially once you’re no longer working. Setting realistic expectations about your retirement right from the beginning will make this time of your life a lot easier to deal with. If you’d like to learn more about saving towards retirement, contact us today. 

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Tips for Escaping the Consumer Debt Trap

Research has revealed that Americans collectively owe more than $1 trillion on credit cards alone – this doesn’t include other amounts owed on store cards and other forms of debt. If you’re unfortunate enough to be carrying a substantial amount of consumer debt, chances are that you’re thinking it will be impossible to become debt free. However, the following tips and advice will help you claw your way out of the consumer debt trap over time.

Determine how much you owe

Before attempting to repay all of your debts, it’s crucial that you know exactly how much money you owe on various store cards, credit cards or even outstanding medical bills. The easiest way to determine this will be to pull bank statements, credit card bills, store account statements and any other statements from institutions that you owe money to. 

Although it can be scary to see all of your bills facing you at one time, this will be the only way to see exactly how much debt you have.

Set Up a Repayment Plan

Once you’ve determined how much money you owe, you’ll need to set up a plan to ensure that everything will get repaid over time. 

Although the debt snowball method is usually recommended for repaying outstanding bills, it is not the only option. This method involves starting with the credit or store card that has the smallest amount owing on it and repaying as much as possible on the balance each month, while paying minimum require payment amounts on the rest of your debts. 

Another option you may want to consider is determining which credit or store account charges the highest interest rate and repay that specific one down as quickly as possible, while paying minimum amounts on the rest. Over time, this could save you a fair bit of money in interest charges – which can in turn be used to repay other debts quicker.

Inquire about Possible Balance Transfer Options

While it may seem counterintuitive to open another credit card, there may be cases where obtaining a balance transfer option to a 0% interest account could save you thousands of dollars in finance charges. Many credit card providers are so keen to attract new clients that it’s often possible to obtain a deal offering 0% interest for anywhere up to 24 or even 36 months in some cases.

Quit Using Credit Cards

The only way your credit and store cards will be fully repaid is if you commit to not taking on any new debts. It’s no use setting up a payment plan if you’re simply going to use your available balances again. Instead, save up and pay cash for large ticket items you want to purchase such as a new TV, replacement vehicle or that new couch you’ve been eyeing out. Your budget will thank you in the long run.

If you’re keen to create a better financial future for yourself and your family, but aren’t sure how to start doing so, contact us today. We will be more than happy to assist you with setting up a realistic budget and savings plan.

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retirement savings

Start Boosting those Retirement Savings Today

Rising living costs and increased job losses have made it more difficult than ever for individuals to start, add to or maintain decent retirement funds. Over time, this will result in them not being able to afford to live once they’ve stopped working. Below are a few ways in which you can get that retirement nest egg to start growing without it having a major effect on your current living standards.

Use Tax Refunds Wisely

Several individuals use tax refund money to purchase luxury items that they would otherwise not be able to afford. Instead of doing this, consider investing 50% of it before doing anything else. Large amounts of money are great to receive each year, but they can be made even more enjoyable when at least a portion is left to accumulate interest. 

For example, if you’re fortunate enough to earn $100,000 a year and you receive a $2,000 refund, investing just half of it would be the equivalent of increasing your existing 401(k) contributions by a full 1%.

Don’t Squander those Raises

Raises are generally seen as rewards for remaining loyal to your employer and proving your value as an employee. While it is tempting to increase your standard of living whenever you receive a raise, this won’t be too beneficial to you when the time comes to stop working. 

Instead of spending the full amount of the raises you receive, consider saving 50% of it instead. For instance, if your raise amounts to an extra $50 per week, save $25 of it and use the rest. Saving this amount will enable you to still enjoy the fruits of your labor, but you’ll also be securing your retirement at the same time. 

In most cases, the easiest way to save 50% of your raises will be to direct them to your 401(k) account because this will redirect the money automatically.

Consider Investing the Earnings from a Side Job

These days, thousands of Americans are working side jobs, either out of sheer necessity to make ends meet or to give their retirement funds a much-needed boost. Many of them have even been fortunate enough turn hobbies into paying gigs as well. If this is the case for you, why not consider using this to your advantage and save half of the earnings into a high-yield savings or retirement account?

While not everyone working second (or even third) jobs will be able to afford to save the earnings from these endeavors because of having to simply make ends meet, keep in mind that if you are able to save these funds, it will give your retirement nest egg a valuable boost. 

Your main goal should be to save as much money as realistically possible without having to do without the essentials, and the advice above will go a long way in helping you to boost your retirement fund. Saving half of any extra funds you receive will still allow you to enjoy some of the extra cash – but you’ll also enjoy peace of mind in knowing that you’re securing your financial future at the same time.

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Is it Possible for Singles to Build Savings?

A number of singles in their 20s and 30s tend to focus so much on establishing their careers that they forget completely about planning for retirement. However, the truth is that the sooner you start planning for this time of your life, the fewer financial worries you’ll have when reaching your 50s and 60s. Here are a few ways in which singles can build a decent retirement nest egg fund.

Consider an Additional Job

If the current cost of living is making it difficult for you to maximize your tax-deferred savings accounts or even build a healthy emergency fund, you may have to consider taking on a second job – even as a temporary option. This can provide you with a much-needed financial lifeline, especially if you’re struggling to repay consumer debts as well. After all, you definitely don’t want to be stressing about trying to repay any debt when the time comes to retire.

Save as Much as Realistically Possible

If you’re single, it’s strongly recommended that you save as much as permitted in any tax-deferred forms of savings account you may have each year. This may seem impossible initially, but keep in mind that you may not have financial support from a spouse or partner to help pay bills and other daily expenses. 

Now is also the time for you to start building a reasonably sized emergency fund, which should be anything from three to six months worth of expenses – again, you won’t be able to rely on the security of a partner’s income if you happen to become disabled or injured and not be able to work for an extended period of time. 

Give yourself Financial Protection

Single people tend to be at a higher risk of experiencing financial disaster if they become unable to work for any length of time due to job loss, injury, or disability. For instance, if you’re in your 40s and suddenly unable to work for any reason, it’s crucial that you have a financial plan in place that will help you cover living expenses until such time as you die. The best option, in this case, I some form of disability protection. 

When you purchase any form of disability protection, you must check the policy thoroughly to ensure that payouts will be able to cover you for as long as it will be needed. Keep in mind that many cheap policies will normally only payout for a predetermined period of time, so it’s strongly recommended that you enlist the help of a financial advisor before signing on the dotted line. 

Ensuring that your retirement will be as financially stress-free as possible need not make you feel overwhelmed, especially if you take the advice mentioned above into consideration and act upon it as soon as possible. If you would like to ensure that you’ll be able to enjoy your golden years as much as possible without worrying about money, contact our team today to schedule an appointment.

 

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early-retirement

Can Early Retirement Add More Years to Your Life?

Your retirement years are supposed to be the time of your life where you get to enjoy yourself after working for many years. It’s that time when you’ve had a successful career, repaid your student loans and hopefully eliminated all of your other consumer debts as well. Being able to retire early is something many individuals dream about being able to do, and studies have shown that stopping work at a younger age could be the ticket to living longer as well.

Study Results

A study was performed in 2017 in the Netherlands and the results thereof were published in the Health Economics journal. It indicated that men who were able to retire before age 60 were up to 3% less likely to die within the first five years after stopping work than men who only retired after 60 or 65. No conclusive evidence was provided with regards to how early retirement affected women, unfortunately. 

Another study undertaken at the University of Wisconsin revealed that retired individuals got to enjoy more leisure time, which in turn helped several of them to adopt healthy habits such as exercising more, quitting smoking and altering their diet patterns – all of which led to them being able to live longer. This particular study involved men and women and it clearly indicated that early retirement could significantly impact a person’s wellbeing. 

A Potentially Conflicting Study

Despite all of the evidence from the above-mentioned studies, an alternative study that had its results published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health revealed opposing information. Researchers involved in this study made mention that individuals who worked for a year more than their peers were up to 11% less likely to die at an earlier age. However, the study size was particularly small and focused almost entirely on men.

A study that was similar to that undertaken at Wisconsin University noted that retirement could in fact have a negative effect on the health and longevity of men. It stated that retired men stood up to a 12% chance of becoming obese within just four years of retiring early – which would in turn cause several other health issues to develop. 

Keeping Active

If it’s one thing the studies all revealed, it’s that it is extremely important for anyone who retires to find some type of purpose. While some individuals will find it absolutely thrilling to embark on a new life, others will feel empty or lost and think they no longer have anything to offer anyone. 

Hobbies and other outside interests are crucial, as is a decent retirement nest egg – these will help prevent the onset of stress and depression that is usually associated with worrying about finances. It’s also important to remember that everyone’s retirement paths are different, so never compare yours to anyone else’s. 

Although it’s fairly inconclusive whether retiring early will help you live longer or not, the fact remains that you need to do everything possible to make this time of your life pleasant and enjoyable. If you would like to ensure that your nest egg will be large enough to see you through retirement, contact us today.

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2021 money

Make 2021 your Best Financial Year Yet

If you haven’t been able to accomplish any of your personal finance-related resolutions or goals this year, don’t feel alone. No one would have been able to predict how COVID19 and its accompanying chaos would affect the economy as a whole. 

Although your specific financial plans will depend on your family and current circumstances with regards to income and employment, there’s no reason why you won’t be able to make 2021 your best financial year yet. Below are a few ways in which you can help make this happen for you and your family. 

  1. A Budget is Crucial

Although virtually everyone knows that a budget is essential if you want to make the most of your finances, several individuals don’t know how to use this tool effectively. A budget is not simply something that should be written down and then promptly forgotten – it needs to be amended as your financial circumstances change from time to time. 

When creating a budget, you will need to know exactly how much income is being received and the full amount of all of the expenses that need to be covered each month. In addition, you’ll need to think about any additional financial goals that you’d like to achieve during the year. For instance, you may want to save up to earn that college degree you’ve always dreamed about or you may even want to spoil your family with that long-awaited overseas vacation once the pandemic is over. 

After creating your budget, you’ll need to check that your income exceeds the amount of expenses that must be covered. If this isn’t the case, cuts will have to be made somewhere to rectify this.

  1. Consider a Side Gig

These days, there are more opportunities available than ever before for anyone who wants to earn a little extra cash during their spare time. A few examples can include delivering groceries and/or transporting passengers through the Uber/Lyft platforms. Putting some of your spare time to good use by earning a little extra cash could make all the difference between being able to meet your financial obligations or not. 

  1. Eliminate Consumer Debt

Unfortunately, a number of households saw their consumer debt levels escalating during 2020 due to job losses and reduced income levels. This put a severe strain on the budgets of several families. 

2021 provides you with an ideal opportunity to do everything possible to reduce or even eliminate as much of this debt as you can and some of the best ways to do this include reducing luxury expenses and doing everything you can to earn additional income that can be put towards debt payments. 

Once you have a solid financial plan in place to ensure that monthly expenses are covered comfortably, it’s time to start considering the possibility of saving and/or investing towards long-term future goals such as retirement. Contact our team today if you would like to learn more about ensuring that you’ll be able to provide your family with a secure financial future. 

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retirement-pensions-income

Why you should Check your Social Security Earnings Record Regularly

Not nearly enough individuals are aware that they should be checking their Social Security earnings record at least once a year after reaching the age of 50. It’s crucial to check this information to ensure that it doesn’t contain any errors that could have a negative effect on your benefit payments when the time comes to withdraw them. Even the smallest error could have a tremendous impact on your retirement

What is your Social Security Earnings Record?

Your Social Security Earnings Record is a timeline of any income you’ve received during the years that you’ve been working, and the benefits you eventually receive will be based off of the 35 years in which you earned the most money. If one of those years is mistakenly listed as a zero earning year, this will affect your benefit calculations and this will in turn cause you to receive smaller benefit checks than you should. 

A simple error like this could result in you receiving as much as $100 a month less than you’re actually entitled to – and this can make the difference between barely surviving or at least being able to cover your expenses comfortably during retirement. 

When you should Start Checking

In reality, it’s never too early to start checking your Social Security earnings report – so you can even start keeping records as soon as you start earning an income. However, individuals who haven’t yet checked their report should at least start doing so when reaching the age of 50. This will provide enough time to address and correct any errors that may crop up. 

It’s possible to inspect your earnings report online by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. You will need to create an account if you don’t already have one set up and you’ll be able to log in at any time after doing this. 

Keep in mind that a statute of limitations is in place with regards to the amount of time that can pass before any errors on your Social Security earnings report can be amended, and this is currently three years, three months and 15 days. Some exceptions to this ruling include deliberately fraudulent entries, clerical and/or mechanical errors. 

What to do if Errors are Detected

If you discover any incorrect information, you will need to inform the Social Security Administration (SSA) immediately, and the best way to do this is by submitting a form referred to as the, “Request for Correction of Earnings Record.” 

When filling this form out, you will be required to provide relevant evidence with regards to the wages that you’ve earned. Examples of paperwork that you may be asked to provide can include:

  • Wage verification from an SSA-approved business or company
  • Tax return documents
  • Employee-issued or original pay stubs – these will need to include your full name, gross earnings, social security number and the timeframe covered
  • W-2 paperwork
  • Written and or/verbal statement from the relevant employer or company

It’s essential that you respond as promptly as possible to any correspondence that the SSA may send to you regarding errors that have been detected. This will help ensure that they are rectified as quickly as possible. Although an amount of $100 may not seem like a lot right now, it could make all the difference between being able to cover living expenses or not during retirement. 

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retirement challenge

How Retirement is Becoming More Challenging for Older Employees

Over the past few years, it has become more challenging than ever before for employees over the age of 55 to secure positions that are within their normal pay ranges – regardless of how experienced or qualified they may be. Some of the most common remarks these individuals hear include the fact that they are overqualified for the position being applied for or that businesses cannot afford to pay them the wages they are used to earning. 

Forced to Accept Smaller Paychecks

The sad reality is that older employees are usually among the first to be laid off from the very companies where they have invested many years of their working careers. When they are searching for a new job, it often takes several months or even a year or two before they’re able to find any company that will be willing to employ them – but in the meantime, bills still need to be paid regularly. 

Skipped mortgage payments, overdue utility bills and depleted retirement savings cause a number of these experienced and often highly qualified employees to grab at any position that comes available – just so they can continue providing for their families. 

By the time they’ve reached 55, several employees have not only become accustomed to a specific lifestyle; many people forget that these individuals often still have children living at home as well. 

More Older Employees Now than Ever Before

More individuals than ever before that are over 55 are employed these days, and the average jobless rate for them is just over 3% in comparison to almost 4% of the rest of the working population. However, upon finding themselves suddenly jobless, older workers end up remaining unemployed for longer than their younger counterparts. 

Upon reaching 60 and older, employees also have to deal with steadily declining wages – and pay rates continue declining regardless of the amount of experience or education these valuable employees have. 

Why Individuals are Working Longer

People are living a lot longer and staying healthier than ever before, and the rate of standard pension plans is also phasing out quickly. This means that there is less chance of them receiving guaranteed income when the time comes for them to retire – resulting in many older persons wanting to continue working for as long as possible. 

This could fill the large gap in the economy in that the continual labor shortage could be virtually eliminated by hiring older employees. However, not many companies seem willing to hire these valuable employees because they tend to think that productivity rates will decrease when they reach a certain age. However, this is not always the case – there have been many instances where older employees have far outperformed those that are even half their age. 

Employers often forget that older workers possess extensive experience and this can prove to be extremely valuable in a number of situations – especially when younger employees simply don’t possess the knowledge or experience to resolve a specific issue. 

If you would like to find out how you can do everything possible to provide a livable income during your retirement, get in touch with us today.

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retirement income

Convert your Retirement Funds to Workable Income

Although virtually everyone is aware of how important it is to save money towards your retirement years, very few individuals know where to start, how much they will need to save each month and how to ensure that what they are saving will be enough to let them enjoy their golden years without worrying about finances any more than what’s totally necessary. 

Pensions – No Longer as Popular as Before

In years gone by, many individuals relied almost entirely on pension schemes to see them through after retiring. If you were fortunate enough to land a decent job, remained in the same position for 20 to 30 years and then retired from that company, you would have been able to enjoy receiving monthly pension payments that were usually sufficient to cover virtually all of your living expenses. 

Good pension plans allowed employees to invest small sums of money into Certificates of Deposit (CDs) and bonds so that they could even enjoy a few extra luxuries as well. 

Sadly, most companies no longer offer pension scheme benefits to their employees anymore. This means that retirees must now rely on alternative income sources – and not just Social Security benefits either anymore. 

Start Saving as Early as Possible

The sooner you implement a savings plan for retirement, the better. Financial experts usually recommend that you should start investing in a diversified portfolio at least 15 years before your planned retirement date. However, if you’re able to do this earlier, you’ll be able to take advantage of compounding interest over a longer period of time. 

Develop a Workable Plan

It’s essential to have a plan set up that details the amount of money which will be withdrawn from your nest egg each month – also keep in mind that there may be some months where expenses will be higher than others, like at Christmas time. As such, you’ll need to determine your monthly living expense requirements and plan on withdrawing 4% or less of your retirement savings annually. 

Diversification is Crucial

Although stocks and other investments can increase substantially in value, they can also take a sudden dive when least expected. As such, it’s essential that your retirement portfolio be diversified so that it includes annuities, bonds, CDs and stocks.

Social Security as a Supplement to your Income

While Social Security payments will currently provide a steady form of monthly income, it’s recommended that you only start claiming these funds well after the age of 65 – otherwise you could lose as much as 20% of what your payments could actually be. 

At present, the minimum age for retirement is 62. However, most individuals won’t qualify for their full Social Security amount until reaching between 66 and 70 years of age. If you’re not keen to wait this long before retiring, you may either have to continue working until this time or ensure that you can receive income from alternative sources until reaching the right age to claim from Social Security.

If you would like to ensure that your retirement is as financially stress free as possible, get in touch with our team today. We’ll be happy to assist you with setting up a realistic savings and investment plan.

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retirement-lasting-longer

Retirement may Last Longer than you Realize

By 2050, it’s estimated that close to 100 million Americans will be over the age of 65 – this is close to double the amount of older folk that are currently around. This will have severe implications on almost everything – from the amount of food that’s available to find skilled labor to allocating sufficient funds to provide a realistic level of healthcare for an aging population. 

A Social Shift has Taken Place

Doctors who were practicing in the 19th Century recommended that as individuals got older, it was necessary for them to slow down so that they could conserve their energy. However, several people started to live a lot longer after 1900, resulting in an increase in senior citizens overall. 

Over time, this caused business, industry, and government agencies to look for ways to justify removing older individuals from the workforce so that younger employees could be accommodated. Even though individuals are now healthier and living to older ages than ever, society, in general, appears to be doing everything possible to write off up to a quarter of the lifespan of anyone who is over the age of 65. 

A Prospective Goldmine for Marketers

A number of lawmakers and have voiced concern with regards to the fact that having higher numbers of senior citizens obtaining public benefits would negatively affect the economy. However, new research has suggested that the number of people that are now living to older ages than ever could actually present the economy with a potential marketing goldmine – in fact, goods and services that have been specifically tailored for the senior market are now worth more than $9 trillion a year. 

Planning Accordingly is Crucial

While several older people do have a definite plan in place with regards to how they would like to spend their golden years, it’s essential to remember that you will need a reasonable amount of money to live on – regardless of what those plans may involve. Continually rising inflation and the overall cost of living means that you will not be able to rely entirely on Social Security benefits upon retirement. 

If you’re fortunate enough to still be in your 20s, 30s or 40s, you may think there’s still ‘more than enough time’ to start saving, investing or setting funds aside that will help you survive during retirement. While time may still be on your side, starting to save money as soon as possible will allow you to set aside a smaller amount each month because of compounding interest

Our experienced and accredited financial planners can provide you with a lot of information about saving and investing in such a way that you’ll be able to enjoy your retirement and not have to worry about finances along the way. If you’d like to establish a savings plan that will cater for your needs during retirement, contact us to set up an appointment with one of our financial planners today. We look forward to helping you secure your financial future.

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