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Dollars & Sense: Being Thankful for Choices

By Roberta L. Nestor

The new world of technology provides pre-retirees with so many tools to help you prepare for retirement that it can be overwhelming.  There are calculators that will tell you if you have saved enough for retirement or tell you how much you will have to save.  There are apps and websites that help you track, manage and set goals for your future.  And, according to the Boston based research firm Cerulli Associates, there are over 300,000 financial advisors out there to guide you with all of the decisions you will need to make for retirement.

Why are there so many tools and advisors that are specific to retirement planning?  Because it is complicated.  You need guidance on how much to save, the best way to save (tax deferred or ROTH) and where to invest those savings.  Today you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to your retirement so you will have to look at many variables.  How can I retire early?  When should I start receiving social security?  Should I rollover my 401k?  Will I have to work in retirement?  How do I turn my savings into monthly income?  What should I do with my cash balance savings plan?  How do I protect income for my spouse?  There is no one correct answer and that is why retirement planning should be very specific to your own goals and finances.

Prior to the 1980s retirement income planning tools did not exist.  Internet aside, it was primarily because they were not needed.  Thirty-five years ago there were only two components to retirement planning – pensions and social security.  Corporate America told you when you could retire based on the company pension plan which nicely tied into eligibility for social security at age 65.  You didn’t have pension options per se; if you were married you had to take a joint survivor option to protect your spouse.  You made an appointment and went to the social security office and filed for your benefits.  You didn’t have to worry about income tax withholding on social security because the taxation of social security benefits didn’t start until 1984.  And, most did not have accumulation in IRAs or 401ks so there were no investment decisions to make.

Now you control retirement destiny, that’s a gift to be thankful for.  You are no longer forced to work for one company for “x” years to get a pension.  You make your own investment choices; they are not made for you.  Think of today’s retirement planning as goal based planning.  One of the best tools for goal based planning is programs or calculators that will simulate your future.  It is like taking a snapshot of what your financial situation looks like today and projecting (based on your rate of savings, expenses and inflation) the probability of success.  It answers the very question, “How do I know I can afford to retire at age “x” and that I won’t run out of money?”

What if the numbers don’t look good?  Then you will be able to see what additional savings would be necessary to meet those goals.  Or, perhaps in order to reach your goal you might have to look at working longer; maybe selling your home and downsizing, or even relocation.  You are never too old or too young to start saving for your future.  Be thankful that you can make your own path for retirement and have complete control for your golden years!  While online tools can help you meet your goals and keep you on track when you have decades before actual retirement, they can’t replace the knowledge and experience of an advisor who works with individuals’ one on one, face to face, year after year.

Roberta L. Nestor is a financial advisor practicing at 491 New Haven Avenue in Milford, CT offering retirement, long term care, investment and tax planning services.  She also offers securities and advisory services as an Investment Adviser Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network – a member FINRA/SIPC and a Registered Investment Adviser.  Fixed insurance products offered through Nestor Financial Network are separate and unrelated to Commonwealth. Commonwealth Financial Network or Nestor Financial Network does not provide legal or tax advice. You should consult a legal or tax professional regarding your individual situation.  Roberta can be reached at Nestor Financial Network, 203-876-8066 or roberta@nestorfinancial.com.

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