Don't be a Rookie: Retire Like a Pro!

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No one knows how far the talent and preparation of NFL rookies will take them. Similarly, people retire everyday without a clue if they have enough money to live the lifestyle they choose. You can change that!

The NFL football season is finally here and we can only imagine how excited and nervous those rookies must be. They've worked hard for years to get into physical shape, earn a spot on the team and become the master of their position on the field. Not all rookies, however, prepare appropriately and unfortunately have short careers in the NFL.

We are all rookies in some capacity throughout life as we try something new. When preparing for retirement, don't fall short. Make sure you train hard to retire successfully and have something to show for it in the end. Here are a few training tips on how you can prepare for a "winning season."

Start with a Superior Draft!

Draft your retirement plan in the first round. It’s imperative!

You can't "wing" retirement. Saving to your employer retirement plan is great, but is it enough to maintain your lifestyle throughout your retirement years? Create your financial plan now to help you determine how much you need to save in order to live comfortably during the golden years.

Determine what your retirement lifestyle requires by challenging what you truly spend. It may be more or less than you spend today. Make sure you include travel, entertainment, and other large expenses that are not generally included in your monthly living budget. Don't forget the cost of health insurance and out of pocket medical expenses.

Now consider how much you will receive in Social Security benefits and/or your company pension. Any short fall will need to come from your personal savings. Are you saving enough? If not, now's the time to make a change.

What’s your Game Plan for Social Security?

There are many options to consider when commencing Social Security benefits. You can start as early as age 62, but waiting until age 70 offers a larger monthly payment.  But, are you sacrificing your investment portfolio to defer taking Social Security? If you're married, divorced or widowed, there are strategies that allow you to take benefits without impacting your own record - do you know what those are?

Working through your anticipated retirement cash flow can help you chose the best Social Security payment strategy.

Avoid Mistakes in your Pension's Red Zone

If you're fortunate enough to have a pension plan, you know there are a lot of ways that you can take your payment. Unfortunately, once you make your decision, you can't change your mind! So, which is best? If your spouse is quite a bit younger, then choosing a survivor pension benefit may be important. However, don't overlook taking the lump payment and investing the funds yourself, particularly if you don't need the income stream right away.

Rolling the lump amount to an IRA allows you to withdraw money when necessary, instead of receiving a constant monthly pension payment. With this strategy, you can avoid paying tax on money before it is necessary. The IRA rollover also gives you more control over your hard-earned benefit. Your spouse, children, or others can inherit any remaining dollars. Pension payments simply stop at your passing (or your spouse’s under the joint life option). This may result in no one getting full benefit of your life's work.

No Huddle Offense: Requires Long-term Investment Plan

Make sure that your allocation to stocks, bonds and other asset classes is appropriate for achieving your retirement goal and keeping pace with inflation. Given today's low interest rates, bonds and CDs alone won't do this. To avoid adjusting your lifestyle if inflation takes off, some portion of your portfolio should be allocated to the stock market. It can be hard to stomach the volatility; however, this is where you will experience the most investment growth over the long run.

What’s the impact of 3% annual inflation? $60,000 today equates to almost $150,000 in thirty years!

Post Season Play

Don't retire too early! We have a high probability of living longer than our parents. Make sure that your financial resources will provide for your spending needs for the long-term. Working a little longer may provide the needed cushion.

Summary

Preparing for a shot at the NFL requires years of hard work and dedication. Preparing for retirement is no different. Make a plan, stick to it, and retire like a pro!

This article was contributed by Kathy Hower, CFP, a Wealth Advisor at Bedel Financial Consulting, Inc.

Elaine E. Bedel, CFP, is CEO and president of Bedel Financial Consulting, Inc., a wealth management firm located in Indianapolis. She is a featured guest each Wednesday on the WTHR (NBC, Indianapolis) Channel 13 News at Noon, "Your Money" segment.  Elaine's book, "Advice You Never Asked For... But wished you had," is available on Amazon.com. For more information, visit www.BedelFinancial.com or email Elaine at ebedel@bedelfinancial.com.

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