When the Working Day is Done
By Steve Samson
Are you saving enough for retirement? Chances are you want to answer yes to this question. After all, you may be socking away money every paycheck into a 401(K) and getting a good matching contribution from your employer. You may also have your own Individual Retirement Account (IRA) on the side as well as some other investments. You may be well on your way to paying off your mortgage early and getting your credit card bills under control. Your financial future looks bright and you think you don't really have a reason to fret about your golden years.
But how much will you really need to retire? Well, most experts say you will actually require a lot more than you think you do. That's because such a large portion of the American population – the Baby Boomer generation – is slated to retire all at once, which will put a tremendous strain on those tried-and-true programs for seniors like Medicare and Social Security. More of the onus for our financial security will fall on our own shoulders, and that means having a bigger and more diverse nest egg in place before you leave the working world behind you. Thankfully, there are a number of strategies available, based on your age and financial situation, to better prepare you for retirement.
If you're in your twenties or early thirties and you haven't started saving, you better start now. Putting aside even a couple hundred dollars a month in an IRA or a 401(K) will be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars by the time you're ready to call it quits. You should also think about building up other forms of equity if you haven't already: i.e. buying a house instead of renting and dipping your toes into the investment world.
If you're in forties and fifties with some kind of nest egg in place (or not), it may be time to start reexamining your retirement strategy to better prepare you for the additional money you will inevitably need. One of the biggest steps you can take is to reexamine your investment portfolio with the help of a financial advisor and make sure it is properly diversified for a volatile market. If you don't have a portfolio, not only should you start looking into assembling one, but you should also reconsider your risk aversion. If time is of the essence, then you may no longer have the option of playing it safe with low-risk, low-reward investments.
One financial strategy that works for everyone, regardless of age, is to pay off debts fast and then channel the bulk of those savings into a retirement plan. Too often we see paying off major debts – credit cards, student loans, mortgages and cars – as an opportunity to improve our lifestyle instead of saving for the future. But by making our nest eggs the priority (instead of keeping up with the proverbial Joneses), we can insure a respectable lifestyle long after we've left the working world.
And speaking of lifestyle, the trade-off for all this additional stress over retirement is that there are far more options for enjoying our nest eggs than were ever available before. A huge sub-industry has cropped up within travel, tourism, health and the luxury goods sectors that tailor specifically to seniors with money to burn. With people living longer and healthier lives, retirees who are well set financially can enjoy the very finest things in life for a lot longer than ever before.
About the Author
Steve Samson is a freelance financial writer who hopes to retire in luxury. He contributes to MyRetirement.com – a website about retirement planning including articles on investments, healthcare and living the high life in retirement.
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