Ask any reputable financial planner about how to secure a decent retirement and you might just get a laundry list of what you should or should not do. Most represent pretty good thoughts. Fidelity Investments takes care of my wife's portfolio and they are particularly sympathetic to the workingwoman and what needs to be done to ensure her security in retirement. I'm not so sure it is any different for the male.
In fact, they say that investors who are more confident and better prepared have followed a few simple, yet smart moves to help them to a more comfortable retirement. These are indeed worth reviewing.
1. Max Out/Catch-up Your 401(k) and IRA
Roughly one in 10 employees invests the full pre-tax contribution allowable each year in their 401(k). When creating their retirement income plan, Fidelity found that investors in or near retirement who started saving early and consistently took advantage of savings opportunities, including tax-advantaged workplace savings plans, IRAs, employer matches and "catch-up" provisions, generally were better prepared for what they needed for retirement.
2. Save Now for More Later
According to Fidelity, the most common obstacle for saving for retirement is finding extra cash, and the most common solution is reducing your expenses and paying off debt. For example, put off purchasing a new car for a couple of years, eliminate credit card debt, or take a major vacation every other year.
3. Make Your Asset Mix Match You
Avoid the two common retirement savings mistakes: being overly cautious or taking excessive risks when deciding how much of your assets to invest in cash, stocks, or bonds.
4. Stretch Your Salary
While Americans generally don't think about working in retirement, Fidelity has found that some investors are planning to work to some degree and for several very good reasons. Some nearing retirement want to close the gap between their initial Social Security distributions and when employer pensions are scheduled to kick in. Others simply want the advantage of a regular income and subsidized health care benefits.
5. Create an Income Stream
Although company pensions are on the decline, Fidelity found that many investors still want the peace of mind that comes with receiving a regular income.
6. Don't Withdraw Too Much Too Soon
Odds are at least one member of a 65-year-old couple will reach the age of 92. Fidelity has found that a large number of Americans developing retirement income plans underestimate their longevity and must adjust their expected savings withdrawal rates to better reflect their retirement budget.
7. Create a Realistic Budget
Two out of three pre-retirees have not developed a budget for living in retirement. Many of those who do haven't even considered the lifestyle changes they'll face and how those changes will affect monthly expenses.
8. Expect the Unexpected
Unforeseen events or illness can throw off the best of plans. Fidelity estimates that a couple retiring today at 65 should plan on spending $190,000 for out-of-pocket medical costs over the next 15 to 20 years. Fidelity has found that retirees and pre-retirees are underestimating future medical costs. Only one in four have even purchased supplemental health coverage or long-term care insurance.
9. Stay on Track
Pre-retirees and retirees anticipate having on average nine sources of household income in retirement. Not surprisingly, they expect that planning and managing these multiple incomes will be a more difficult task than saving for retirement. To help stay on track, individuals and spouses should review their plan annually, including expenses, investments, and asset allocation. In working with recent retirees, Fidelity has found that many times investors' expenses in retirement have exceeded their expectations.
10. Mix 'n Match
Creating a successful retirement takes more than a one-step solution. Whether it's finding a "fun" part-time job, eliminating one of the family cars, or taking a vacation locally, the most confident, better prepared retirees have taken action and implemented multiple strategies to extend their income, control their spending, and maximize their savings.
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