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Preparing for Retirement

Because everyone’s idea of retirement is unique, it’s important to think about what will work best for you. How do you plan to spend your retirement years? Some people thrill at the thought of free days filled with golf and beachside living, while others can’t imagine leaving the workforce entirely. Whatever your ideal retirement is, you’ll want to do what you can to make your money work for you in the present, so that your financial future is secure.

Start saving, and keep saving.

Establish a retirement savings program like a 401k through your employer or IRA. The sooner you begin your retirement savings, the more time your money has to grow. Review your budget and determine how much you’ll be able to put toward retirement savings each month. Stick to that number as long as you can. Ask your employer about your benefits.

Know your retirement needs.

Experts estimate that you’ll need roughly 70 percent of your pre-retirement income to maintain your standard of living throughout your retirement years. When determining how much money you’ll need to accrue, consider the various income contributors you’ll have: pension, Social Security and income from investments and annuities.

Contribute to your employer’s retirement savings plan.

If your employer offers a matching retirement savings plan, do your best to contribute. Try and contribute the maximum match amount so that you don’t lose “free” money.

Get to know your pension plan.

If you are expecting a pension from your employer or the military, take time to find out what that pension plan entails and how it works. Ask for an individual benefits statement to see how much your pension will be worth come retirement time.

Research your Social Security benefits.

On average, Social Security benefits equal 40 percent of your pre-retirement earnings. To better estimate your expected benefits, visit www.ssa.gov.

Consider basic investments.

In addition to contributing to your retirement savings account, also consider varying your portfolio with a few investments. How you save can be just as important as how much you save. Inflation and the types of investments you make play a key role in how much you’ll have saved by the time you’re ready to retire.

Don’t touch your retirement savings.

Life will give you reasons to want (or need) to break into your retirement coffers. As best as you can, try not to touch these funds. When saving for retirement it is critical to not let your retirement savings become your only method of saving. It is not to be confused with an emergency or rainy-day fund.

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