May 122012

Planning for retirement can be a challenge as we’ve discussed multiple times here at PFJournal. The difficult decisions start, hopefully, well before you retire and consist of saving money, making a budget, planning an appropriate retirement plan and so forth.

The real fun begins, however, when you get to start thinking about where you want to spend your time living during your retirement. For some people that is very likely going to be looking for a wonderful place to live in Florida Retirement Communities.

Some folks might be under the impression that the entire state of Florida was made for retirees, but of course this is not really the case. There are, however, so many great choices that it will take some time and research to find the perfect place.

For some retirees looking to spend their retirement in Florida, they might consider a place like Devonshire at PGA National. This is just the type of place that a lot of people will find absolutely perfect, especially those looking for luxury and a senior living experience. If that fits your idea of a perfect way to reward yourself for a lifetime of hard work, consider spending some time on their website and explore what they have to offer.

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Jul 312009

If you need a little help getting reading for retirement, here’s an article that discusses a boot camp to help you get ready.

The NYTimes mentions that the camp is “aimed at making sure their investment clients who are contemplating retirement know exactly what they’re getting into.”

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Oct 172007

We’ve been warned now for many years that when the Baby Boomers begin to retire the Social Security system would soon begin to bend and sway under the avalanche of new retirees. Well, that day has just arrived. The very first official baby boomer as just applied for Social Security and the press is all over it. A women in New Jersey who was born on January 1, 1946 has just applied this past week, making her the first of her generation, those born from 1946-1964, to apply.

What does this mean for you? Well, probably not much really, but it makes for a quick story since we’ve been hearing about the dire warnings for years now. The Social Security Commissioner, Michael Astrue, has called this the beginning of the “silver tsunami.” This great wave of retirees may include up to 80 million individuals who make up the generation. By current measures, experts feel that by 2017 Social Security will pay out more than it takes in, and that if important steps are not taken soon, the fund will run out of money in 2041. It should be an interesting couple of decades. I would recommend that if you are planning on retiring anytime after about 2030 that you seriously consider getting your retirement plan into action immediately.

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Oct 102007

I recently discussed the idea of whether it’s better to retire early or work later. I think this is ultimately a pretty personal decision and there won’t really be a right answer. Everyone wants different things and certainly looks at work and retirement from a different point of view. That said, there a great number of folks who simply want to retire early.

The first issue nowadays is when exactly is it considered an early retirement. Clearly people are able to work longer and Social Security keeps getting pushed back further and further. The traditional retirement age of 65 now seems a bit early itself these days. Still, it’s pretty clear that anything prior to age 50 would be considered early by most any standard. So what do you have to do to retire by age 50?

Moneycentral wrote an interesting piece that featured a few examples of what it takes to retire by age 50. It’s no great surprise that it comes down to the basics: planning early, saving as much as you can, and cutting spending whenever it’s possible. If you make some clearcut plans early and benefit with the power of compounding, you’ve made a great beginning. The saving and spending part really goes without saying.

The interesting dilemma, for Americans at least, is that most of what it takes to retire early goes counter to just about everything we see around us everyday. People are spending like crazy, desperately trying to keep up with the Jones’, and almost always spending more than is coming in. Many (most?) people would simply scoff at the lifestyles and spending habits that are required to retire like the people mentioned in the article.

The issue, of course, runs much deeper than I’ve made it out to be. The US is a debtor nation, and of that there is no doubt. This goes for the government at large as well as the individuals that make up the country. The question for many years has been just how long can it last. We always seem to be just one step ahead of a train wreck, and as long as everyone keeps spending and using credit the machine keeps stumbling along.

But what of these thrifty folks, wisely saving in order to retire a bit early? Are they ultimately going to get screwed when the whole house of cards comes tumbling down, brought down by the reckless abandon of the spendthrifts addicted to credit?

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Oct 082007

Once upon a time, retirement was a fairly straightforward proposition. You landed a good job sometime in your 20s or 30s, worked your butt off for the same company for 30 or 40 years, then retired at age 65 with a nice pension and a comfortable Social Security check. Well, needless to say, those days are nothing but a vague dream now. Not only do people skip around from job to job, they regularly change careers a couple of times during their working life. Social Security is in such sad shape that many younger folks today don’t even think it will be around when they reach their 60s or 70s. Besides, as life spans increase, a lot of people are expecting to work much longer than our grandparents even could have expected.

The fact of the matter is that there are no easy answers and, in fact, really no right or wrong answers either. Different strokes for different folks and all that. I know many people expect to retire early, sometime in their 50s so that they can enjoy as much of their life as possible. In fact, we posted a quiz at one point a couple of years ago to help you determine your retirement readiness.

For those of you thinking of working a little longer into your life and beyond the traditional retirement age, there’s an interesting article here. The problem with trying to get or keep a job later in life, according to this article, is that “age discrimination appears to be alive and well in the U.S.” They might just try to force you out before you’re ready to leave.

Another interesting place to take a look to see how you stack up to other families looking to get their financial cards in order is over at CNNMoney, entitled Millionaires in the Making. This series looks through the finances of some families that “are making all the right moves. They save as much as possible in tax-advantaged accounts. They watch what they spend. And they have clearly defined financial goals.” You can compare your financial choices and see how you stack up.

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Sep 172007

With all the changes happening today in the finance world, it is absolutely imperative that you get your financial house in order. This includes coming up with a solid and well-thought out financial plan. We have previously discussed assessing your risk profile as well as making a recession proof portfolio. These two points alone should drive home the point that financial planning is necessary.

A financial plan will, at its most basic level, consist of coming up with a comprehensive budget. You need to list all of your real and potential expenses and get them down on paper. If you’d like, you can make two columns: one listing your monthly budget and another listing the actual amount spent. You also need to list the sources of income.

Once you’ve established what you need to spend your money on, how much you have coming in, and how much of a difference there might be between the two, you’re ready to start making a financial plan. This planning phase should include both long and short-term time frames. You need to establish where you want to be in 10 years as well in 10 months.

Oct 122005

Writing a will is one of the most important things you will ever do. Yet, most people often fail to realize the importance of writing a will or ignore writing a will altogether. This is a big mistake.

A will is a legal document which, after you die, determines who will get your property, who will be the guardian/s of your children and who will manage your estate. Obviously, these are very important issues to get sorted since the outcomes reached in your will have a huge impact on your remaining family and offsprings.

If you do not write a will then state laws will determine who gets your property in a process called intestate succession. Most likely, your estate will be divided amongst your spose and children. Depending on the laws in your state, your property will be divided amongst your spouse and children. For those who are not married and do not have any children, than their property is dispensed to your next of kin. If, in the event that you do not have a next or kin, or the state is unable to track them down, than your property goes to the state.

So, it is obvious that writing a will is a necessity. But what is required?

The two most important things to include in a will is naming a guardian for your children, if yourself and your spose are unable or unwilling to act as guardian, and naming an executor for your will. The executor of your will is responsible for oversee the disbursement of your asset after your death as well as other important responsibilities (you can hire an attorney for this role).

There are two types of gifts that you will leave in your will. These are specific gifts and general gifts. Specific gifts (optional) are specific objects left to a specific person. General gifts are the leaving of a percentage of all of the remaining estate to principal heirs.

There are many options available to someone looking to write a will. You can do it yourself using a will kit or an online will service. Or, ofcoarse, you can go to an attorney to get your will done.

Once you have written your will it should be stored in a safe place.

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Mar 312005

Imagine New Kent County, Virginia, a quiet rural area located between Richmond and Williamsburg Virginia, as a place for retirement.

New Kent County’s rural scenery and serenity coupled with its proximity to Richmond and another historic town, Williamsburg, make it perfectly situated for retirement. New Kent County is also the home of Martha Washington, wife of George Washington and one of our founding mothers. There are many notable historic sites in New Kent County to visit, and one of the oldest Native American reservations, inhabited by the Mattaponi, is located here. Keep reading, because there are other attractions that make New Kent County a perfect choice for retirement in Virginia, too. Continue reading »

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Mar 142005

For a successful retirement investment plan to work in the stock market, some ‘reasonably sure’ assumptions would have to be made:

The retirement investment plan must take into consideration the one prevailing constant in any stock market security – risk and uncertainty. Understanding that risk and uncertainty are the key factors that propels the return on investment in the stock market far beyond the returns of Passbook Savings Accounts, CD’s or Bonds are a start. The plan’s key factor would be to use the risk and uncertainty of a stock market security to its advantage. Continue reading »

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Feb 092005

I am a native of Tidewater Virginia, which encompasses counties and towns in the Chesapeake Bay area from Virginia Beach, to Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg and New Kent County. Even before I entered the real estate profession I watched the real estate market change and evolve over many decades. The Tidewater area, which includes Greater Williamsburg, is a pleasant location for retirement mainly because of the temperate climate and convenient location on the Eastern seaboard. Many military retirees who have served much of their career in the area simply opt to stay in Southeastern Virginia when they retire. Continue reading »

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Feb 092005

Of the 75 million baby boomers nearing retirement today, many are debt ridden, severely unprepared for retirement, under funded and without a strategy. This is a very serious problem in a country that we can all remember used to assure most people of a retirement where you are taken care of financially.

We all know that social security alone is not the answer to this problem. Many baby boomers are on the cusp of retirement without the ability to pay their basic living expenses with the money they will have coming in after retirement.

This means most will be looking for jobs to compensate, or they will be looking for extensions of their current jobs past the time they had hoped to retire and enjoy their lives comfortably.

Out of embarrassment, many people answer their friends by saying they wouldn�t know what to do with themselves in retirement to justify why they are still working to make ends meet past retirement age.

If you are in the situation above or can picture that situation in the next 10 years, there is something you can do to change that financial prognosis.

First, look at your 401k. Calculate what you could expect at retirement if you could actively manage it up to 8% more in yearly compounded return.

Depending on when retirement is supposed to happen for you, what kind of nest egg does that leave you as opposed to depending on the return you are seeing now?

A very simple but powerful 401k strategy that works with any 401k plan involves two things.

1. Awareness
2. Use of an index fund

By awareness, I mean tracking the value of your 401k holdings on a weekly basis if possible. With this level of awareness you can easily spot a portfolio decline. If it approaches a predetermined amount (5% to no more than 10% suggested) you should switch into a money market. Or if you are well informed and have the ability to do so, switch into an index fund that is designed to profit from a decline (a Bear Fund).

The biggest advantage you will gain is NOT letting your account value sink to such dismal levels where a 40%, 50% or greater gain is required just to get back to even.

This alone could significantly increase the size of your 401k over time.

Is this the only strategy that can safely increase your return rate on your 401k?

Not at all. You just need to know what most people won�t tell you. Whatever your situation is right now, how much time you have left to make a change, and how much you calculate your need to be for a comfortable retirement, you cannot benefit from leaving things as they are.

Only education and strategic investment can net you the returns needed to have a safety net in place so that when you retire, you are not stuck in a constant monthly deficit spending cycle.

That�s not what retirement was supposed to be about. And it doesn�t have to be that way for you!

Article by C.C. Collins of

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Jan 282005

This article is going to briefly touch on the main things a financial plan should accomplish. You don’t need a professional to help you draw up your own financial plan, but you might need professional advice and help to put some of your plans into action.

Such as advice on your insurance needs to make sure you, your family and your home are adequately covered, tax advice to make sure you are not paying too little or too much, investment advice to ensure that you can reach the amount you would like to retire with while still putting money aside for your children’s education and advice about what to put or not to put in your will.

Those are the things you should speak to a professional about, but you should have your financial plan worked out before you speak to one so that you can let them know exactly what you wish to accomplish with your plan. Your goal is financial success; your method for reaching that goal is your financial plan.

After you have drawn up your plan is the best time to speak to a professional financial planner. They will be able to let you know whether or not you will be able to accomplish those things in your current situation after looking at your total financial picture.

Your plan must take into consideration all of the goals you have set for yourself in order to achieve financial success. It should also take into consideration, all of the obstacles and things that can go wrong along the way. No one’s life is perfect, things do go wrong, job loss, illness and accidents do happen and should be planned for.

The first thing a financial plan should include is protection for you and your family in the event of disaster. That includes adequate insurance for your family and your property, and an emergency fund.

An emergency fund should be equal to at the very least six month’s worth of take home pay. Actually, most financial experts say that now a days, nine months to a year would be best.

If you do not have your emergency fund now, you should have access to an already established line of credit or credit that is readily available to you that you do not touch for any other reason except for an emergency.

If you lose your job or become temporarily unable to work due to an illness or accident, you will not be able to obtain credit without income. So this is some thing that must be able to be in place now and used only in the event of an emergency, otherwise you will have to save up for your emergency fund a over time.

You should also have life, health, long term disability and property insurance. I am not an insurance expert so I am not going to go into the different types of life insurance available you should speak to a certified financial planner about that. I do know that many experts are now saying that term life is preferable to whole life. It is much cheaper and it accomplishes the same purpose as whole life.

I have been told that many of your payments in the beginning of a whole life insurance policy are basically going to the person who sold you the policy as a commission before the money you put in starts building up.

Many people have health insurance available through their jobs. If you and your spouse both work use whichever plan gives you the best coverage, some jobs also provide life insurance up to a certain amount with extra available if you pay a little more. Be sure to check with your employer.

If you own a home you have to have home owners insurance. You need to make sure that if your home was destroyed by fire or some other disaster that your insurance will cover you enough to replace that home and your possessions in that home. If you rent you should have renters insurance to help cover you in case of an emergency.

You should have a household inventory with serial numbers where applicable and pictures of your possessions wherever possible along with receipts if you still have them in a fireproof box or case along with your other important papers. You should do this whether you rent or own a home.

The next thing a financial plan should accomplish is financial security and a comfortable standard of living for you and your loved ones. If you are married and have children, you need to plan for them as well as your self.

If your parents are still alive, you should find out how well they have planned for themselves so you can make provisions for that if you need to instead of it being a surprise to you should one of them become ill or pass away. If you have siblings you might be able to share the responsibility, otherwise if might all fall on you.

Find that out while you are working out your financial plan so you are not hit with a surprise a few years down the road. Nursing homes are very expensive. That could wipe out their savings very quickly and then go through yours too if you have to help them. A few financial questions and asking them whether or not they have long term care insurance in place; could save a lot of unnecessary problems in the future.

Your plan needs to make sure you are paying all of your household bills and expenses, providing some fun and entertainment money, provide care for all of those who depend on you to give them the security they need and deserve and also to ensure that you don’t short change your spouse and yourself out of your own retirement needs by providing for everyone else.

If funding your children’s entire college education is out of the question, you need to let them know that at an early enough age for them to start their own planning. Let them know approximately how much you will be able to help them and that they will have to get good grades to be eligible for scholarships and grants.

Tell them if a private college is out of the question. Let them know that they will most likely have to go to community colleges or state schools. Talk to them about your financial situation. They might have very unrealistic expectations that you know nothing about because they know nothing about the family’s financial situation.

Let them know that your job is to provide a roof over the family’s head, make sure there is enough to eat, heat and electricity so everyone can be safe and warm and their job is to get good grades to be eligible for as much aid for school as possible.

As long as they know you love them and that you are doing the best that you can for the entire family, they will understand. Explain to them that as long as they do their job, together you will do everything you can to help them fulfill their goals and dreams for the future within your means.

You have to make sure that you don’t get so bogged down in planning for the future for everyone else, you forget to plan for the lifestyle you want to have during your retirement.

Again if paying for college is unrealistic for you, explain to your children that it is not possible for you to do so because if you do you might end up being a financial burden to them when you retire. Let them know you will do what you can.

While the main purpose of financial planning is to have a better future, you also need to make sure you live well today and are comfortable. You won’t stick with any plan that has you feeling deprived and miserable for very long.

The next thing a financial plan should include is preparing for a secure retirement. With people living longer than they used to you have to plan for at least 20 to 25 years in retirement, if not more. You need to have plans for maintaining your standard of living, paying for medical care (with the proper insurance in place) and remaining financially independent of your children (by having investments for income) so you will not be a burden to them.

Your plan also needs to keep taxes in mind. Have your financial planner look over your taxes now to see if you are paying too little or too many taxes. They can also advise you on which type of investments will be best for you tax wise. Some investments have more tax advantages than others.

For instance, with a Roth IRA you only pay taxes on the money that your money makes in the IRA when you withdraw it and not the money that you contributed to it. Even if you withdrew every penny that you put into it, as long as you don’t withdraw the income that your money made you won’t pay taxes on it until you do.

The last thing a financial plan should include is your final provisions, better known as your will. No one likes to think about dying, but let’s be honest we all have to do it sometime. Having your wishes drawn up as well as having the appropriate insurance and financial documents all together can alleviate the stress and anxiety for your family.

Grief over the loss of a loved one is tough enough without adding the burden of financial distress to it. Your plan needs to include a will and all related financial and insurance documents with it and an estate plan or trust that is designed to match your financial situation.

To recap the main things a financial plan should include are an emergency fund, insurance to protect you from disaster, financial security and a comfortable standard of living for you and your family now and in the future, a comfortable and secure retirement that provides for you and does not burden your children, making sure you are paying the right amount of taxes now and that your investments are right for you tax wise also and finally putting your final wishes in writing to make sure they are carried out.

While those should be the main components of a financial plan, there are other things that need to be considered. The stage of life you are at now. If you are in your twenties now you can afford to take more risk with your investments because you have more years to make up for any investment losses. If you are in your forties you might want to be a little more conservative.

Your lifestyle is another consideration. If you are a spender and not a saver you have to be realistic about whether or not you are willing to curb some of that in order to have a better financial future. If you have a problem staying away from the credit cards you need to get a handle on that first. If you are the type of person who spends more than they make in order to keep up the perception that you are successful, your plan will not work.

Your plan needs to fit your lifestyle and not the other way around. If you make a plan that forces you to give up too much of yourself in order to accomplish it, you never will accomplish it. Above all else when it comes to financial planning, you need to be honest about who you are financially right now and whether or not you are willing to make changes to have the financial future you want.

You also need to be honest with your family. If your children are old enough include them in the plan making let them feel like they are a part of it and that your overall goal is the financial health and well being of the entire family. This can help to avoid any disappointments that can come from not knowing what the situation is. Letting your family believe that things are much better financially than they actually are will only cause problems in the future.

Article by Teresa Kaufman.

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Jan 182005

Beware of estate planners charging little or nothing to draft your estate plan. They are likely earning a commission on the investment products they recommend – which could compromise the objectivity of their advice. And note that competent estate planners should offer a holistic approach to estate planning. That is, an objective and skillful adviser provides more than investment strategies or financial planning advice. Continue reading »

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Jan 182005

How do I begin? Start by making a list of those you wish to remember in your Will. You will want to provide for your dependants first, but here is your chance to be creative. You can give a meaningful item to a favourite relative, honour a friend or arrange gifts to organizations and charities that you believe in and support. Continue reading »

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