Hope for your financial life and beyond

Should I Retire Early? – 9 Questions to Help You Decide

What do the numbers 61, 65 and 73 have in common? You might guess they are the home run records set during various Major League Baseball seasons by Roger Maris (1961), Mark McGwire (1999) and Barry Bonds (2001) respectively. However, for our purposes here those numbers represent peoples ages. Specifically, the age they may be looking at to mark the beginning of their retirement. In fact, we could also put in numbers like 55, 50 or even younger as even people at those ages are asking could I or should I retire early.

should i retire earlyLet’s just get this out of the way right at the beginning…clearly a person can retire at any age they choose. However, to receive full financial benefits from the Social Security Agency will require a person to work until a certain age (based on when they were born). For example, I was born after 1960, so full retirement age for me isn’t until age 67 according to the Social Security website.

I could begin to receive benefits as early as age 62. However, those benefits would come to me at a reduced rate. The calculation used by Social Security is based on the number of months once I retire until full retirement age is reached. In my case that would be 60 months if I retired at age 62.

Retiring early at age 62 sounds great. However, it would really cost me. It would turn a potential $1,000 benefit into only $700, a 30% reduction. $300 dollars a month would go a long way. The Social Security website has a great chart showing all the ages and reduction percentages.

So the choice to retire early isn’t a no brainer. In fact, there are many other things to account for aside from the financial considerations.

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5 Innovative Retirement Planning Tools to Help You Save More

Enjoy this post on retirement planning tools by guest blogger Alfred Stallion.

retirement planning toolsOne of the key aspects of retirement is ensuring that you have sufficient funds in investments and cash to continue living comfortably for many years. By adhering to sensible investment principles and saving guidelines, this can be attained. Thanks to advanced technology and mobile apps, it’s easier than ever to know how much you need to retire, how much you have to save, and how aggressively to invest in order to lead a happy life in your senior years. Mobile app technology keeps progressing, and anyone with a smartphone can now keep track of his finances, and thus plan for retirement much more conveniently.

Here are several retirement planning tools to help you save more money along the way.

Retirement Planning Tools

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The Easy and Hard Parts to Becoming a Millionaire by Age 65

Would you feel financially secure if you became a millionaire? I’d say most people would. A million dollar net worth provides the cushion you’d need to weather almost any financial storm. Becoming a millionaire should set your financial worries at ease.

becoming a millionaireThat doesn’t mean you can live recklessly and spend money on whatever you want. Do that and you might find yourself broke before you know it.

Nor does it necessarily mean you can stop working. A millionaire at 75 can sit back and enjoy the fruit of their labor. A millionaire at 35 still has many more years of life expenses in front of them.

Becoming a millionaire is both easy and hard. That may seem contradictory. How can something be both easy and hard? As you can see from the following graphs, the contradictory nature of that statement can best be viewed through three variables:

time, income and choices.

Becoming a Millionaire by Age 65 in Visuals

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Beyond the Retirement Plan: 3 Things You Must Do Before You Stop Working

For many people, retirement planning means saving enough money to cover expenses after they stop working. Whether they sock money away into a 401(k), IRA, a savings account, or just stuff cash under the mattress, getting ready to retire is just about the money.

retirement planWhile having enough money to pay for housing, food, and other expenses is certainly very important, it’s not the only concern if you want to have a fulfilling retirement. There are several other issues to address before you say goodbye to the working world for a new life of leisure, which can make a big difference in how comfortable you feel — and your family feels.

So before you start planning your retirement party, make sure you’ve addressed these important issues.

1. How Will You Fill Your Time?

If you have spent the last four or five decades working, suddenly having your days free is bound to present some challenges. Not only will you no longer have your actual work responsibilities, but also your off-hours won’t be spent thinking about work, either. You might have images of traveling, spending more time with your family, pursuing a hobby, or other ideas, but do you really know how you will spend your days?

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Is There Ever a Time When You Shouldn’t Use a 401k?

In today’s post, financial consultant Dave Landry Jr. shares his thoughts on when best to invest in a 401(k). Enjoy!

401k interstate signFor decades now, the practice of squirreling away maximum contributions into a 401(k) plan has been a bit of received wisdom. A savings-account nest egg may be safe but accrues paltry interest, and social security is almost never enough to live on. However, a number of financial experts are now bucking this conception.

While there’s no doubting the solid security of a 401(k) for many consumers, in some cases there are better ways to maximize your retirement funds. In general, these situations are predicated on either the dynamics of your income tax rates or your potential need for an early cash out. Here’s a quick overview of when a 401(k) plan is and isn’t advisable.

For Tax purposes

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Should I Save For Retirement or the Kid’s College First?

I’m a very linear person. I default to moving in a chronological order, doing things step by step according to a predetermined plan. So it’s confusing when trying to decide whether to save for retirement first or our kid’s college.

save for retirementOn the one hand, it’s been drilled into me that saving for retirement is important. However, I know the costs of college tuition are increasing every year with no end in sight. I’d love for my kids to graduate from college debt free and feel an obligation as a parent to help with some of my own money to make that happen.

The thinking goes that college is a nearer-term goal than retirement. That fits with a linear life narrative. Prepare for the financial situations that are coming sooner and push off financial decisions that can be made later. For most people, college costs will come before retirement costs so shouldn’t we be focusing on that first?

It seems logical to prepare for college first but I’m going to suggest today that we should do the illogical. The exact opposite should happen. Save for retirement first and college second.

Why to Save for Retirement First

There are four major reasons why we should save for retirement before college:

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6 Financial and Emotional Reasons to Retire Early

Have some good reasons to retire early? The thought of leaving that career and setting aside the accompanying stress that it produces does sound exciting. In fact, you may already have begun to plan how you might be able to that 10 or 20 years before your retirement benefits are available.

reasons to retire earlyIt’s a lofty goal one that you must be sure about. You can’t just waive a magic wand and make it happen or ensure that it will be enjoyable. It takes planning and deep consideration of all the financial and emotional reasons to retire early before you pull the trigger.

To that end it would be wise to consider the following as they relate to early retirement. You may find after working through them that you want to hold onto that career for a few more years.

Financial Reasons to Retire Early

These first three reasons to retire early all focus on the financial side of the equation:

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Moving Back In With Your Parents at 50? It’s Happening A Bunch

moving back in with your parentsHave you ever thought about moving back in with your parents? This past weekend the LA Times published an article detailing the number of Californians age 50-64 who are doing just that. You heard that right. Middle-age adults (and their kids) living back at their parent’s home, perhaps occupying the same bedrooms they had as teenagers.

The big details of the study are this:

“For seven years through 2012, the number of Californians aged 50 to 64 who live in their parents’ homes swelled 67.6% to about 194,000, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. That jump is almost exclusively the result of financial hardship caused by the recession rather than for other reasons, such as the need to care for aging parents…”

It’s not all that uncommon for adult children to live with aging parents. My aunt has been doing that for years with my now 100 yr. old grandfather, and it’s been a beautiful situation for the family. This arrangement most often happens because of a health issue or the desire for the elderly parent not to end up in a nursing home. So, parent and child come together again in a single home and the child serves as caregiver in their parent’s later years.

According to the study, these middle-age kids are moving back in with their parents because of hard economic times. They lost their jobs as the economy collapsed and are now finding it difficult convincing employers to hire them. They have exhausted their savings and simply have nowhere else to turn.

Questions on Moving Back in With Your Parents

I have all sorts of thoughts and questions after reading this news:

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Are You Ready to Live to 100?

100This coming February, 2014, our family will be gathering in central Indiana to celebrate a centenarian life. My grandfather will be turning 100 and I’m sure there will be a festive party at the retirement community where he lives. What makes this even more remarkable is that he will be the second member of his family to reach this age. His sister is still alive and kicking at 102.

Both are generally healthy for their age and maintain an active lifestyle (as much as possible for a 100-yr. old). My grandfather, a preacher all his life, still helps lead church services for the other retirees and is an active writer in his journals. His sister still enjoys playing pool in the rec-hall basement. They both tune in every day to watch the Chicago Cubs play and then rehash the game with one another.

While living to 100 is still not the norm, their longevity represents a growing trend in the U.S. and the rest of the world. People are staying healthier and living longer. In fact, the Population Division of the United Nations estimated in 2012 there were 316,000 centenarians worldwide, with the U.S., Japan and China leading the way with the most.

This becomes even more pronounced when it is compared to statistics from the 1930s, the decade Social Security Act was passed into law. [Read more…]