Sunday, 26 May 2019

EBONY HAZELEGER: To retire or not to retire? That is the question – The Albany Herald

Many people are reaching a retirement where they do not have enough savings, a pension, or investments. Some have even lost money in the stock market. Maybe retirement was not a pressing concern in your early 20s, and you probably did not pay attention to how much money was going into your investment vehicle(s). Or maybe you’re the type of person that quickly glances through your employer retirement brochure without giving much thought to the desired retirement income that you would like to accumulate. Or maybe you have not asked yourself when you would like to retire and how much money you would like for your retirement.

Now suddenly you are in your 40s, 50s, or 60s and you are paying more attention to things like annuities, inflation, taxes on your 401(k), reverse mortgages, and Medicare. Retirement is now around the corner, and you start to look back at your earlier years and regret not being prepared much sooner, not saving enough money, not building an emergency fund. You begin to feel the sense of urgency and start asking yourself questions like do I need long-term care? Will Social Security be there when I retire? Will I ever pay off my mortgage? Do I need an advisor? How much do I need for retirement? Do I have long-term disability?

If you are now starting to think seriously about retirement, the good news is that you are thinking carefully about your future, and you want to get on the right track in getting your retirement plans in order. That panicky feeling is making you more aware that these years are very critical and that you need to move now in order to get your retirement off to a good start. Here are four ways to get started.

How Much Do I Need For Retirement? This first step is critical and should not be brushed off. You need to know where you stand financially and how your money is growing. Ask yourself how much money have you saved so far and will your other assets be enough for your retirement. Do not be discouraged or worried if you have not asked yourself this question before. As we say many times, this is the moment to confront the truth. You still have time to cut back on spending, build an emergency fund, rearrange your retirement savings, and to invest aggressively in your vehicles.

Have you ever heard about the 4 percent rule? If you have a desired annual income you would like to retire on each year, subtract your annual income from your pension, and/or military retirement pay, subtract your annual income from Social Security, and divide the remainder by 4 percent. What figure did you come up with? How much have you saved so far? What are you plans of getting there?

Do not just glance at your retirement cash balances and other investment vehicles. Think carefully about how long that money is going to last you when you begin withdrawing every year.

Have A Cash Cushion: You never want to go into retirement 100 percent by investing all your funds into the stock market. This is a really bad idea. Why? Because if the stock market crashes like it did in 2008, you will have a hard time regaining all of your money. Use other cash investment options like tax-deferred vehicles. And guard your money from the bear market by having two or three years worth of liquid savings so that you do not have to sell all of your investments if the stock market ends up plummeting again.

Examine Your Life Insurance Policies: Many clients that I work with have life insurance through work and end up getting portable life insurance designed specifically to pay off their debt if they were to pass away and designate a beneficiary for that life insurance policy. Always make sure that your 401(k)s, life insurance policies and IRAs have clearly named beneficiaries and double check to see if your policies are either term or whole life.

Pay Down Your Debt: Many experts advise against retiring with debt because when you retire, you live on a fixed income from either your investments, Social Security and pension plans. Your debt should be managed carefully and paid down each month. If your debts are eating away too much at your cash flow, you need a financial plan. You must have all of our debt paid down or off before retirement.

For more help in getting your retirement and savings on the right path and to request a review on your life insurance policies, give my office a call today or visit me at

Ebony Hazeleger is the owner and creator of Home Plan Advisors, which specializes in helping families become debt-free, maximize savings for college expenses and retirement, and establish emergency funds while minimizing risk and income taxes based on her smart money management system. For more information, call (866) 248-1871 or visit

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