FINANCIAL FOCUS – Can You Afford to Retire Early?

Some people dream of retiring early. Are you one of them? If so, you’ll need to plan ahead – because a successful early retirement can’t be achieved through last-minute moves.

So, if you’re determined to retire early, consider taking the following steps:

  • Pick a date. Early retirement means different things to different people. But it’s important to pick an exact age, whether it is 60, 62, 64, or whatever, so you can build an appropriate retirement income strategy.
  • Think about your retirement lifestyle. You may know that you want to retire early – but have you thought about what you want to do with your newfound time? Will you simply stay close to home and pursue your hobbies? Do you dream of spending two months each winter on a tropical island? Or are you thinking of opening your own small business or doing some consulting? Different retirement lifestyles can have vastly different price tags. Once you’ve envisioned your future, you can develop a saving and investment plan to help you get there.
  • Boost contributions to your retirement plans. If you want to retire early, you may well need to accelerate your contributions to your retirement accounts, such as your IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored plan. You may need to cut back in other areas of your life to maximize the amounts you put into your retirement plans, but this sacrifice may be worth it to you.
  • Invest for growth. Your investment strategy essentially should be based on three key factors: your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon. When you change any one of these variables, it will affect the others. So, if you shorten your time horizon by retiring early, you may well need to reconsider your risk tolerance. Specifically, you may need to accept a somewhat higher level of investment risk so you can invest for greater growth potential.
  • Keep a lid on your debt load.  It’s easier said than done, but try to manage your debt load as tightly as possible. The lower your monthly debt payments, the more you can contribute to your retirement plans.

Life is unpredictable. Even if you take all the steps described above, you may still fall short of your goal of retiring early. While this may be somewhat disappointing, you might find that adding just a few more years of work can be beneficial to building resources for your chosen retirement lifestyle. For one thing, you can continue contributing to your IRA and your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored plan.

Plus, if you’re still working, you may be able to afford delaying your Social Security payments until you’re closer to your “normal” retirement age, which, as defined by the Social Security Administration, likely will be 66 or 67. The longer you put off taking these benefits, the bigger your monthly checks, although they will max out once you reach 70.

And even if you are not able to retire early, some of the moves you took to reach that goal – such as contributing as much as you could afford to your IRA and 401(k), controlling your debts, and so on – may pay off for you during your retirement – whenever it begins.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Put Lessons From “Retirement Week” to Work

To raise public awareness about the importance of saving for retirement, Congress has designated the third week of October as National Save for Retirement Week. What lessons can you learn from this event?

First of all, save early – and save often. Too many people put off saving for retirement until they are in their late 40s – and even their 50s. If you wait until you are in this age group, you can still do quite a bit to help build the resources you will need for retirement – but it will be more challenging than if you had begun saving and investing while you were in your 20s or early 30s. For one thing, if you delay saving for retirement, you may have to put away large sums of money each year to accumulate enough to support a comfortable retirement lifestyle. Plus, to achieve the growth you need, you might have to invest more aggressively than you’d like, which means taking on more risk. And even then, there are no guarantees of getting the returns you require.

On the other hand, if you start saving and investing when you are still in the early stages of your career, you can make smaller monthly contributions to your retirement accounts. And by putting time on your side, you’ll be able to take advantage of compounding – the ability to earn money on your principal and your earnings.

Here’s another lesson to be taken from National Save for Retirement Week: Maximize your opportunities to invest in the tax-advantaged retirement accounts available to you, such as an IRA and a 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. If you have a 401(k)-type plan at work, contribute as much as you can afford every year, and increase your contributions whenever your salary goes up. At a minimum, put in enough to earn your employer’s matching contribution, if one is offered.

Apart from saving and investing early and contributing to your tax-advantaged retirement accounts, how else can you honor the spirit of National Save for Retirement Week? A key step you can take is to reduce the barriers to building your retirement savings. One such obstacle is debt. The larger your monthly debt payments, the less you will be able to invest each month. It’s not easy, of course, to keep your debt under control, but do the best you can.

One other barrier to accumulating retirement resources is the occasional large expense resulting from a major car repair, sizable medical bills or other things of that nature. If you constantly have to dip into your long-term investments to meet these costs, you’ll slow your progress toward your retirement goals. To help prevent this from happening, try to build an emergency fund big enough to cover three to six months’ worth of living expenses. Since you’ll need instant access to this money, you’ll want to keep it in a liquid, low-risk account.

So, there you have them: some suggestions on taking the lessons of National Save for Retirement Week to heart. By following these steps, you can go a long way toward turning your retirement dreams into reality.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Here’s Your Retirement Countdown

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If you want to enjoy a comfortable retirement lifestyle, you don’t need to have been born rich or even to have earned scads of money during your working years. But you do need to make the right moves at the right time – which means you might want to start a “retirement countdown” well before you draw your final paycheck.

What might such a countdown look like? Here are a few ideas:

  • Ten years before retirement – At this stage of your career, you might be at, or at least near, your peak earning capacity. At the same time, your kids may have grown and left the home, and you might even have paid off your mortgage. All these factors, taken together, may mean that you can afford to “max out” on your IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan. And that’s exactly what you should do, if you can, because these retirement accounts offer tax benefits and the opportunity to spread your dollars around a variety of investments.
  • Five years before retirement – Review your Social Security statement to see how much you can expect to receive each month at various ages. You can typically start collecting benefits as early as 62, but your monthly checks will be significantly larger if you wait until your “full” retirement age, which will likely be 66 (and a few months) or 67. Your payments will be bigger still if you can afford to wait until 70, at which point your benefits reach their ceiling. In any case, you’ll need to weigh several factors – your health, your family history of longevity, your other sources of retirement income – before deciding on when to start taking Social Security.
  • One to three years before retirement – To help increase your income stream during retirement, you may want to convert some – but likely not all – of your growth-oriented investments, such as stocks and stock-based vehicles, into income-producing ones, such as bonds. Keep in mind, though, that even during your retirement years, you’ll still likely need your portfolio to provide you with some growth potential to help keep you ahead of inflation.
  • One year before retirement – Evaluate your retirement income and expenses. It’s particularly important that you assess your health-care costs. Depending on your age at retirement, you may be eligible for Medicare, but you will likely need to pay for some supplemental coverage as well, so you will need to budget for this.

Also, as you get closer to your actual retirement date, you will need to determine an appropriate withdrawal rate for your investments. How much should you take each year from your IRA, 401(k) and other retirement accounts? The answer depends on many factors: the size of these accounts, your retirement lifestyle, your projected longevity, whether you’ve started taking Social Security, whether your spouse is still working, and so on. A financial professional can help you determine an appropriate withdrawal rate.

These aren’t the only steps you need to take before retirement, nor do they need to be taken in the precise order described above. But they can be useful as guidelines for a retirement countdown that can help ease your transition to the next phase of your life.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young