The following is a guest post from Tina Roth. Tina is a personal finance writer and educator. In addition to being the editor at Finance Blog, she is a contributing writer to many other online finance blogs. To reach her you can visit her Google+ profile here. You can also find here at Facebook.
Retirement ought to be a happy time. You can set your own schedule, take long vacations, and start spending all the money you’ve been saving. In a recent survey of MONEY readers, 48% retirees reported being happier in retirement than expected; only 7% were disappointed.
There was a time when companies included pension plans in their compensation packages and employees could look forward to receiving a percentage of their salaries to live on for the rest of their lives. Social Security benefits used to be enough to offset the cost of living, so that a person could retire based on Social Security income alone. In the 21st century, neither of these hold true any longer.
Here are some easy steps you can take to help create a bright future after your working life ends.
1. Make a Plan for Retirement – Saving for retirement can be a bit difficult to figure out at first. The U.S. Department of Labor recommends that you start by determining your net worth — the total value of your assets minus the value of your debts. First, determine what you’ll need to contribute to reach your retirement goal. Next, you need to create a budget of your recurring expenses and include your savings contributions as a monthly expense.
2. Get in the Saving Mindset – Saving a huge amount from your salary annually could be a mind-boggling idea. Fortunately, there’s Compound Interest. You should designate an amount of your pretax income to contribute to your retirement savings on a monthly or bi-weekly basis and have it taken out of your paycheck, just like your taxes.
3. Take Advantage of Retirement Plans – There are types of retirement savings account plans that employers can offer. Among the most popular are the 401(k) plan and the IRA (individual retirement account). Check with your employer, a financial consultant or the federal government about various available retirement savings accounts.
4. Diversify – The saying, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket,” couldn’t apply more to saving for retirement. A person heavily involved in just one type of investment is more vulnerable to financial problems if the markets associated with that investment tank. The most common diversification suggestion is to divide a portfolio among stocks and bonds.
5. Cut Investment Fees – Cutting investment fees as much as possible is one sensible way of protecting a nest egg. What appear to be piddling amounts can wreak havoc over the life of a retirement account.
6. Plan a Budget on the Back End – Now that you’ve reached the end of your work life, you’ve got a substantial treasure chest that’s all yours. Don’t blow it. Create a budget you can stick to just before you retire. After years of creating new budgets as your net worth grew more and more positive, you should be a pro at making budgets by now. You can still live your retirement years the way you like; sticking to a budget will help keep you from outliving your nest egg.
7. Purchase Long-Term Care Insurance – Old age is a depressing phase. That’s why it’s a good idea to purchase long-term care insurance. This specialized form of insurance covers the cost of health care that extends long beyond a typical hospital stay. With long-term care insurance, you’re actually buying a policy that protects your retirement savings.
The corpus you build for your retirement should be able to maintain your desired lifestyle. Risks from volatile markets and fluctuating interest rates are the two most important dampeners for retirement corpus and, many a times, the corpus one wishes to have on retirement may not be achieved with the planned savings. The earlier you recognise this shortfall, the better, as it will help you to reach the goal more efficiently.