Expected Contingency: 4 guidelines for women looking into planning their retirement

Women, on average, live longer than men—this is a plain truth (http://ti.me/8T7Ll),  a fact that must be taken into consideration when planning for retirement.  Running out of retirement funds partway through is not only a risk, it’s an unfortunate reality for many women who’ve outlasted their investments. With this in mind, here are a few general guidelines for women looking into planning their retirement.


1. Start early.

Not only is there still a distinct wage gap between female and male earners, women are also faced with the fact that, in all likelihood, they will end up with a good bit of extra time that they will be needing those retirement funds. This makes it an absolute imperative to start planning for retirement early in order to counteract these two factors working in tandem.


2. Plan for extra time.

As noted in the first point, women are still anticipated to outlast men by a good margin, about 5 to 10 years. Many in the younger generations can expect that to remain, alongside the average age increasing due to advancements in technologies. While planning for a retirement portfolio that will last forever is out of the reach of most, being realistic about longevity is extremely important, and making a conservative estimate may leave you in dire straits down the road. Plan for longevity.


3. Know your caregiver options.

Women with male partners will likely outlast their significant other.  While they will be there to administer care, unfortunately they afterwards find themselves bereft of any similar assistance themselves. Having a caregiver plan will help you sail smoothly throughout the entirety of your retirement and ensure that you have a helping hand as you age.


4. Know your personal risks.

There are a lot of statistics floating around about longevity, but statistics and averages are just that.  As individuals they’re helpful as general guidelines, but are completely ineffective as rules. Knowing not only your family’s medical history and risks associated (or lack of risks which may contribute to a greatly extended retirement) but also knowing your own financial tendencies, will help you get a better grasp on how to manage your money and what factors you should alert your financial advisor of when making a long-term retirement plan.

Extended life shouldn’t have to be something you look at as a downside. Taking steps in the immediate future to ensure that you won’t be too strongly impacted by the unique problems you’ll encounter as a woman facing retirement, will help you make the most of those extra years.
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Fast Forward: How Retirement is Changing

Predicting the future is a rough sort of business to find yourself in, particularly with a world that’s begun changing more and more rapidly with every passing day. Unfortunately a lot of people on all sides of retirement find themselves having to do this very thing, having to try and figure out what directions the world will be taking them in once they’re ready to stop working. Luckily you’re not alone, and most of us are trying to maximize our options for our post-career years. Here are just a few of the ways in which retirement is changing in the next decades, to help you stay ahead of the curve:


A: Retirees are living longer than ever before.
Advancements in medical technology have increased the average life expectancy of individuals in developing nations; retirement planning is becoming more and more troublesome for both actuaries and future retirees (Smart Money, 2012). This increased longevity comes with a need to set up a matching retirement plan, particularly when some retirements are expected to last longer than the amount of time the retirees spent working. Rather than trying to predict how long your retirement is slated to last, be prepared for the longer estimate in response to these treatments and technologies.


B: Children are staying with their families longer, even after college.
According to a new study released by Oregon State University, young adults in the 18-30 age bracket are having a harder time than ever becoming financially independent from their parents (Journal of Aging Studies, 2012). This greatly affects those looking to retire while their children are still young adults, and can cause a domino effect that starts to influence generations to come. There’s no guarantee of the job market recovering or this trend changing in the next few years, so when looking at your retirement make sure to factor in all of your current familial expenses.


C: Social Security may not be around in the future.
Social Security has always been a problem politically since it has a foreseeable end; between longer life expectancies and the large baby boomer population, social security is anticipated to “face funding shortfalls in about two decades if nothing changes” (CNBC 2012). While it’s quite possible that the government will come to a viable solution to salvage social security benefits, it’s a good idea to plan for the ‘what ifs’ regardless. Plan for social security as less of a guarantee and more as a pleasant possibility so there are no unpleasant surprises down the road. Don’t have your retirement plan hinge on social security as it may crumble within the next few decades.


Retirement is changing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still build a healthy, strong retirement plan even with a moderately uncertain future. Your retirement is something that needs to be made to last a long time and you’re allowed to take your time putting the right amount of money into it. As long as you avoid the unnecessary risks in relying on social security, plan for a slightly longer nesting period for your children and plan for your own longevity, you can avoid a few of the major pitfalls that your retirement plans may otherwise succumb to.





How To Dig Yourself Out From Debt

Debt: the deep hole that seems so effortless to dig but impossible to climb out from.  With every new credit plan comes a barrage of danger for consumers already drowning in bills.  It’s a problem that millions of Americans struggle through every day and for many it seems that there is no end in sight.  The pile of debt can get so high that it’s hard to find a place to start, which is often times the most difficult step.  It’s similar to the people on those “Hoarders” shows, when every room is piled high with junk the task can seem too daunting to even begin.  Hours and hours of work hardly make a dent and progress is difficult to achieve.  But for those looking at an uphill climb out of debt, there are ways to make those first few steps easier, and more productive.


The first main process on the road to recovery is to recognize and break your bad habits.  There is no point in doing the work to get out of debt if you will simply bury yourself back into it in a year.  You need to take the time to recognize the spending behaviors that have caused the problem in the first place and work to break them. Take a look at your budget for each month, and make more of an effort to live within it. One way to do this: stop using credit cards.  Consumers find it increasingly easy to mindlessly swipe their plastic through every register they see. By limiting yourself to cash or debit accounts you will be more aware of your spending and unable to add to your debt problem in the process.  Once you have curbed the problem you are ready to begin your journey.


Step 1:  Map it out.  It’s important to lay out your debt in front of you so you know what you are working with.  The options for these are your choice.  Use a spreadsheet or a chart or a series of pictograms or whatever works best for you to understand your debt.  Separate each account by balance, rate, minimum payment and the number of payments you have left.  This organization allows you to plan out the rest of your steps in order to meet your goals.


Step 2: Budget a payment plan.  Once you have all of your debt in front of you, determine how much you can put toward paying off your debt each month.  The goal for this amount should be more than all of the minimum payments on your accounts combined.  This may require some stricter budgeting throughout the month.  Limit your spending wherever you can.  Pack a lunch for work instead of eating out, avoid frivolous or impulse purchases, or turn down your heat at home by a few degrees.  Small changes can give you the boost you need to start to dig yourself free.


Step 3: Focus on a few accounts at a time. The first two steps have given you a plan on how to become debt free, but step three is where the work begins. Pick two or three debts and pay off as much as you can above the minimum on those each month.  This will allow you to begin your ascent.  The selection of these few targeted debt accounts shouldn’t be random.  There is an easy order to follow when attacking these balances.  Pay the one with the lowest balance first.  This decision is wise both financially and emotionally as crossing accounts off of your list can simplify your journey and feel super satisfying at the same time.  Second, go after the debts with the highest interest rates.  Paying these down early will help you nip the problem in the bud and keep your debt balance from rising.  Your last goal is to aim for your secured debt that has just a few payments remaining.  If you pay above the minimum you can cut out the final payment or last few payments altogether, giving you a lot more freedom in your monthly budget.


The final step is simple: once you have dug yourself out, don’t fall back in.  Often times, the freedom associated with people becoming debt free leads to the same habits and behaviors that caused the debt in the first place.  If you feel the need to reward yourself, do it with a deposit into a savings account or a contribution into your retirement plan.  Keeping yourself debt free and financially stable will be the greatest gift you can grant yourself.


What happens to your retirement plan if you die?

When the most unfortunate of times are upon us, our pre planned choices are extremely important when striving to take care of the ones we love. This often avoided subject can also be one of the most important you will ever make.


“What happens to your retirement funds if you die before retirement?”

The Importance of a Beneficiary


Well, the first thing that every person who has a retirement plan should understand is all retirement plans go to a named beneficiary, whoever you put on that document when you first set that plan up.


So if you have a 401K, you should go to your HR department and make sure that your beneficiary is current. If your IRA is held at a brokerage company, you’d want to call them and make sure that that beneficiary form is suitable to you.


Restrictions on your Retirement Funds 


But more importantly in a bigger picture question, and that is if you die before retirement, what happens to the person as they receive that money?


And let’s use an example; your retirement funds go to your wife. Well, your wife would find that she has the same restrictions on that retirement money as you do, meaning those funds are not available to her until she reaches a qualifying age, generally, of fifty nine and a half.


And so if you die too early, counting on those retirement funds to provide an income for your spouse before retirement, that would be quite a disappointment for her.


Look at the Bright Side


The good news is I help people with a variety of different retirement plans, many of which transfer all of your retirement money absolutely tax free using death benefits that are unrestricted, so that your beneficiaries have immediate use and control of that money. They are not burned with the tax rules that other types of qualified plans impose upon them. So I would encourage you, take a look at all of the alternatives.


Finding the answers

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