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Planning for Retirement

Ensuring your financial security in your older years requires planning, starting now, whatever your age.

You will need at least 70 percent of your pre-retirement income to maintain your standard of living when you stop working. People with relatively low incomes may need 90 percent. Social Security will probably pay you less than half of what you’ll need, so you must develop other sources of income to make up the difference.

Take the following steps to ensure that you’ll have an adequate retirement income when you need it:

  • Call the Social Security Administration at 800/772-1213 for a free estimate of your expected retirement benefits.
  • Start saving from every paycheck. Decide how much you can save every month, then deposit it into a savings or investment account as soon as you are paid. You can arrange to have savings deposited automatically to make sure your savings grow consistently.
  • Find out whether you and your spouse have pension or profit-sharing plans with your current and past employers. When you leave a job, roll over all the benefits you have earned into another eligible retirement plan.
  • Contribute to your employer’s 401(k) or other plan that allows you to shelter some income from taxes and perhaps receive matching amounts from your employer.
  • Put money into an individual retirement account (IRA) every year to delay paying taxes on your investment earnings until retirement age. You might also be able to take a tax deduction for your contributions.
  • Don’t dip into your retirement funds for any reason.
  • Remember that taxes and inflation will reduce the value of your retirement funds over time.
  • Diversify your investments among companies, economic sectors and degrees of risk. Don’t rely on stock in the company you work for.
  • Get advice from a professional financial advisor. Savings and investment opportunities are numerous and complicated. Some banks provide this service for free.
  • If you own a home, investigate reverse mortgages. You may be able to live in your home for the rest of your life while receiving monthly payments.
  • Review your retirement strategy and your progress toward your goals every year, and adjust your savings and investments accordingly.

Remember that you, not the government, are responsible for ensuring that you’ll have enough retirement income to live comfortably in your older years.

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