Retirement Planning

Social Security Do-Overs

Social Security benefits constitute a big part of many retirement plans. Advice abounds about how and when you need to file. What if you goof?

Generally, you can file for your Social Security retirement benefits when you reach age 62. Most financial advisors recommend you delay filing to better maximize your lifetime benefits.

Let’s say that’s the advice you followed when you first filed. After all, you paid into the system for your entire working life and you deserve to get the money back out, right? Plus, who knows when Social Security will go bankrupt?

Make Your Money Last (Pt. 1)

You retire and don’t even own an alarm clock anymore. Then it hits you: Can you really afford this lifestyle? Did you save enough and invest right? How long will your money last?

This first of two articles presents strategies to ease your worry about outliving your savings.

Plan a bigger portfolio than you think you’ll need. When planning for retirement, never imagine you’re going to get off easy. Think the opposite.

Retiring, Your Lifestyle Intact

No matter what tools we use to calculate the numbers, we financial advisors always come to a plain and simple truth: Some clients are well-positioned for retirement and others are not. Which are you? What advice do you need?

Acrophobia at Market Highs

Despite a small slide in September and recent days' whipsawing, U.S. stocks remain near their all-time high. Should you worry that this bull market is ending? No. Such records are meaningless. Moreover, there’s a leeriness in the air – call it acrophobia, or fear of market heights – which usually is the opposite of a signal that a rally is doomed.

Boost Stocks as You Age?

The standard investment advice is to decrease your portfolio’s stock allocation as you get older, because equities are riskier than bonds and cash – and you don’t want a bear market to devour your retirement nest egg when you need it. But now, there’s research showing that it is safer if you increase your stock exposure.

Trouble is, this approach doesn’t give you any better results, according to my analysis.

How to Afford Retirement

The methods of building a secure retirement income, which include wise use of Social Security and amassing sufficient savings, are complex. A smart financial planner can help you do it, according to a panel of advisors.

Retiring Mortgage Free

How often do you think about paying off the mortgage? Retirement may be harder if you still have debt. Ideally, you should enter retirement as free from a mortgage as possible. Here’s why and how.

Not having a mortgage reduces your overhead. That is to say, you need less money to live. You lower your personal break-even point. With limited income in retirement, this is always a good thing. Say your mortgage is $1,500 per month. If you pay it off before you retire, you have $18,000 more per year in your pocket.

$ To-Do List for Rest of 2014

With most of this year suddenly behind us, plenty of financial chores remain for you in 2014. Here are eight to-do items for your list.

1. Review your 401(k). With the Standard & Poor’s 500 and other market indexes at or near all-time highs, revisit your 401(k) asset allocation and, if needed, rebalance. Why not take this chance to activate the auto-rebalance feature if your plan offers one?

The 401(k) Ignorance Factor

Too many Americans don’t understand how their 401(k) plans work, and how to take full advantage of this excellent retirement savings vehicle. Such neglect is very harmful to their long-term well-being.

Use IRA $$ for Annuities?

For forever and a day, conventional planning wisdom said don’t use your individual retirement account funds to buy an annuity, primarily because traditional annuities featured tax deferral. Recent changes in annuities may alter this conventional wisdom.

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