FROM RAMEN TO RETIREMENT
Financial Tips to Last a Lifetime
FOOD AND GAS PRICES ARE RISING, a recession may be looming and the stock market is on another roller coaster ride. With so much confusion, how is it possible to invest enough money to enjoy life and have a comfortable retirement?
Investors are already saddled with all of the pressures that life has to offer including raising a family, caring for aging parents and advancing careers. Statistics show that more than 95 percent of all women will be responsible for making economic decisions during their lifetime. Rather than be left behind, more women are empowering themselves and preparing for their financial future.
Regardless of where you are in life use these smart planning tips to help build your financial future:
• Build your Emergency Fund – Yes, you really do need to save at least 3-6 months' income.
• Manage debt wisely and set a budget that you can live by.
• Watch your credit score – Higher scores may help you save money and get a job.
• Keep an up-to-date will and know where all of your financial records are.
• Protect against loss with life, property and disability insurance.
• Contribute to your 401(k) (IRA, ROTH IRA or other available retirement plan).
• Avoid borrowing money from your 401(k) outside of life or death emergencies.
• Review your Social Security Benefit statements – they are a real eye opener.
• Analyze your risk tolerance, set reasonable goals and pay yourself first.
• Diversify – Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket (Remember the tech bubble?).
• Understand all of the risks involved prior to investing.
• “Check in” to see how you are doing and if your investments need adjusting.
• Don’t try to “Keep up with the Joneses.” Many are in debt up to their eyeballs!
|“Regardless of where you are when it comes to investment planning, educating yourself about financial matters is critical.”|
WHAT TO DO IN YOUR 20s:
Fresh out of college and ready to take on the world...how can you possibly imagine ever needing to save for retirement when the pantry is still full of Ramen Noodles? Even if you are being eaten alive by student loans and credit card debt – now is the perfect time to take control of your destiny and develop great savings habits that will reward you for a lifetime.
The truth is that regardless of how “broke” you may feel – at this point in your life – your greatest asset is time. Money that you set aside now will benefit significantly from compounded earnings.
if you set aside $2,000 per year for 40 years (less than $39.00 per week - and the IRS will allow you to put away much more), at a rate of 8 percent you will have saved approximately $560,000 by age 65. But if you wait until you are age 35 to begin saving the same amount of money you will end up with less than half of the money - approximately $245,000.
Start setting aside whatever can – even if it is only $10 a month. Times may be tight but if you are sporting designer handbags or eating out regularly you can probably squeeze a few bucks into a savings account.
In your 20s start:
• Contributing to your 401(k), ROTH, IRA or other retirement plan.
• Setting aside funds for family events: wedding, divorce, children or college.
• Setting up savings for your first home and other long term goals.
IN YOUR 30s:
There is plenty of time to save for retirement, but if you have not begun – you should really consider the example above and how much harder it will be in another ten years. Maximize contributions in your retirement plan and if your risk tolerance allows, investing more aggressively at this time may help your retirement assets grow.
Make saving easier by decreasing spending, paying down debt and splitting your investment dollars between short, medium and long-term goals. Money markets and laddered CDs are great for short to medium term investments. Longer term goals may include a variety of growth related investments including small, mid and large cap stocks or mutual funds, international funds and ETFs. Growth related investments are great for retirement accounts if you are comfortable within your risk tolerance. Teach your children about money and let them learn to help you save at the same time.
If your lifestyle is hectic or you just don’t like dealing with investing, consider using a highly ranked target date funds as well as automating and automatically re-balancing your investments. No matter how busy you are, be sure to take the time to monitor your investments and make sure that you are on track. Hiring an experienced financial advisor to help you with your financial planning and investment needs can be a great time and stress saver as well.
IN YOUR 40s & 50s:
The clock seems to tick a little bit faster and the prospects of retiring appear a bit more realistic. Special concerns may need to be addressed during this time particularly for those considered to be in the “Sandwich Generation.” Caught between taking care of children and aging parents at the same time, those in the “Sandwich Generation” may find saving difficult. This can be a particularly challenge for families who have children late in life and feel that they want to pay for their children’s education even though they have not set aside ample funds for retirement. Remember; you (or your child) can get a loan to pay for college but you can’t get a loan to pay for retirement!
Once you are on track, start estimating the budget that you will need to live the lifestyle that you plan to enjoy in retirement. Realistically you will need to replace 80 to 100 percent of your current income. As current expenses decrease you should have more money to add to your retirement accounts to achieve these goals.
Consider a ROTH IRA for your retirement account if you are eligible, as money contributed here may be withdrawn tax and penalty free. Contributions can be recovered tax and penalty free and there are no mandatory distribution requirements by the IRS as with regular IRAs.
FINANCIAL TIP ~ OVER 50?
If you are age 50 or over you may make additional catch up contributions of $1,000 per year allowing you to set aside up to $6,000 in 2008 in traditional or Roth IRAs. Employer-sponsored plans allow you to set aside even more. Due to changing laws, it is always best to review your individual circumstances with a qualified Tax Advisor.
|"Rather than be left, behind more women are empowering themselves and preparing for their financial future."|
IN YOUR 60s:
Practice living on your retirement budget as if you were already retired – while you are still working. This is a great way to make sure that you have enough money to live on before you retire. Adjustments will be necessary if you find that you are short.
While you are working:
• Review all of your retirement accounts and potential income sources.
• Understand what social security benefits you may be entitled to – including those related to your current or former spouse.
• Consider when you will take potential social security benefits. Will you take early benefits or wait until you will be eligible for full social security?
• Will you continue to work during retirement or make changes in your lifestyle? • Plan for healthcare costs, health care inflation and unexpected home repairs.
After the retirement party:
• Rollover retirement accounts into an IRA to preserve tax deferred status.
• Consider more conservative/less volatile income producing investments .
• Keep a portion of your investments in growth to offset inflation.
• Be careful as to how much money you leave in high risk investments as it may be hard to recover from a big loss if the market crashes.
Regardless of where you are when it comes to investment planning, educating yourself about financial matters is critical. The more that you know about investing, the less likely you will be to panic in a volatile market or to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals who prey on trusting investors or even family members.
Before you write a check – check out your advisor. Make sure that you dealing with an expert - an experienced, licensed professional - regardless of how smart or smooth they sound. Start by visiting www.FINRA.org and clicking on BrokerCheck to learn about the background, status and disciplinary history of firms and brokers.
The topics covered in this article are for discussion and information purposes only. Clients should take special care in understanding all of the risks involved prior to investing. Nothing contained herein should be considered as an offer to buy or sell any security or securities product. Place Trade Financial, Inc. does not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult your own tax and/or legal advisor prior to investing. Please contact Place Trade Financial at 1-800-50- PLACE for further information. Place Trade Financial, Inc. is a registered broker dealer. Member FINRA, SIPC.
This article was originally published in Woman's Edge Magazine. Please look out for Sarah M. Place's upcoming book entitled with the same name "From Ramen to Retirement." Her book is expected to be out in time for holiday gift giving. To receive advance notice of availability please send an email to "myplace" at placetrade dot com (without the quote marks or spaces, at. etc.- this has been changed to avoid auto spam). Please include "Ramen to Retirement" in the subject line (so that we will know that your email is not spam) or call us at 1-919-719-7200 to let us know.