Good News About Retirement Planning

Amid all the news about our struggling economy, budget cutbacks, and the increasing cost of health care, we asked several of our CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professionals to share some good news for those planning for retirement. Here are their comments:

You are in control. You can choose to make retirement a priority and tailor your savings and spending plans accordingly. Reduce debt, save any extra income, inheritance and tax refunds, and keep a close eye on your discretionary spending. Also, be sure to "pay yourself first" by saving on a regular basis within your retirement plan and elsewhere if possible, such as in a Roth IRA. A Roth IRA can not only boost your retirement income, but it can provide tax-free withdrawals. That can help you manage your taxes more efficiently when you begin withdrawing money from your accounts in retirement.

You may have several sources of retirement income. In addition to the widespread availability of section 457 plans, most public sector employees are either participating in defined benefit or 401(a) defined contribution plans. You may also be eligible for Social Security benefits. Review your statements or contact your plan providers to find out about your estimated benefits. You can estimate your Social Security retirement benefits at

Your goals and dreams for retirement are achievable, but require planning. A key to fulfilling your retirement goals is to develop a clear and realistic written plan of what you hope to achieve. And then follow your plan — not your emotions — when markets become volatile. Your plan should detail your savings and investment objectives. It should include a spending plan and realistic expectations for retirement income. Share your plan with your spouse or significant other to ensure both of you are working toward the same goals. And be sure to review your plan annually and make adjustments as needed.

You can help your loved ones. Be sure to designate primary and contingent beneficiaries on your retirement plans, prepare a will or trust, and document and share information about your finances with your spouse, significant other, and children. These actions can save your beneficiaries time, money, and frustration during difficult circumstances.

Free and easy-to-use tools are at your fingertips. Visit RealizeRetirementSM, our online educational resource, to develop a retirement spending plan, determine your retirement income, select an investment strategy, and learn about various aspects of personal finance, such as how to effectively manage taxes in retirement.

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