Are You on the Right Path to Retirement?

Are You on the Right Path to Retirement?
  • Opening Intro -

    After three, perhaps four years of taking it on the chin when it comes to retirement, many Americans are probably wondering if they’ll ever have the financial resources to leave the workplace.

    This month, “MarketWatch” shared some grim news that no one wants to hear: we may have to work well into our 70s, perhaps even our 80s before we’ll have the resources to stop working. [1]

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Depleted savings, ravaged 401(k) accounts, sinking home values and high unemployment have savaged incomes and personal values, making it difficult for many people to rebound fast enough to retire when they want to. Unless you already have a significant amount of money saved and are at least 55, then retiring later than what you want is a likely scenario.

Regardless of your present circumstances, are you on the right path to retirement? Let’s take a look, in general terms, what you can do to get back on track. This information is no substitute for meeting with a financial advisor, but it can give you an idea of what you need to do going forward.

Retirement savings — 401(k) and other balances may have taken a hard hit, leaving you with far less money in your account than what you’d prefer to have. This is where you must assess what you have in your account now and how you can increase your contribution. Many employers have cut back on matching your funds, but that doesn’t mean you should contribute less. An IRA may be a good alternative if your employer’s retirement savings plan isn’t robust enough.

Home values — If you’re not under water with your mortgage, then you have equity in your home. If your home is paid off or well on the way to being all yours, look at this asset as a potential source for funding your retirement. At 65 or 70, you may rule out a reverse mortgage, but by age 72 or 75, the value of your home may provide significant funding for your golden years. [2] Keep your home maintained and don’t allow local market conditions to worry you. The market will change — for the long term, home ownership returns a wise choice.

Residual income — Without sufficient retirement savings and perhaps no pension plans to tap, many retirees will be looking for ways to bring in some income on the side. One way to accomplish this feat is through residual income, monies brought in through a regular income stream source. No, not some sort of scam, but funds based on one or more options including: ad income derived from your website; an Internet storefront; affiliate income and other options.

Cut your risk — As you near retirement, your aggressive investment needs to be changed, with you switching from high growth yields to more stable and certain funding options. This is where working with a financial advisor is critical — he can direct you in the way that you should go, taking into consideration your retirement age, current investments and stomach for maintaining a certain level of risk.

Getting ready for retirement takes careful planning; using a checklist can help you keep track of what you need to do to get to that place in your life. We’ve included a link to an article written by Liz Pulliam Weston who outlines what you need to do to get prepared. [3] Sure, the pundits and prognosticators can tell you that you’ll work until you die, but the reality for many people is far different, especially when careful planning has been put in place.

References

[1] MarketWatch; Many of us Won’t be Able to Retire Until Our 80s; Robert Powell; June 9, 2011

[2] HUD: Frequently Asked Questions about HUD’s Reverse Mortgages

[3] MSN Money; Your Get-Ready-to-Retire Checklist; Liz Pulliam Weston

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Categories: Retirement

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".