My husband just retired, and I plan to retire within five years. We both are lucky to have good pension plans, but that has made us a bit lax in studying our finances. Where should we start?
Well, don't beat yourself up too much. Most people could do a better job in planning for retirement. Luckily, there's a newly updated website from the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) that offers a great set of guidelines for middle-income Americans, especially those who are unlikely to pay a financial planner for retirement advice.
"My Retirement Paycheck" (http://myretirementpaycheck.org/) offers guidance in eight areas:
- Work. This section helps you determine how long you should plan to work and whether working part-time makes sense. In addition, it contains information about buy-outs -- how do you decide whether a buy-out is right for you?
- Social Security. This section helps you understand the pros and cons of claiming Social Security before your full retirement age and explains how benefits are calculated.
- Home and Mortgage. If at all possible, it's best to pay off the mortgage before retirement. This section helps you decide whether it makes sense to downsize, and explains the pros and cons when considering reverse mortgages or home equity loans.
- Insurance. This section explains the ins and outs of Medicare and Medigap policies, long-term care insurance, life insurance, and longevity insurance.
- Pensions. This section explains how to decide payment options under defined benefit plans, and what to consider if taking a lump-sum payment.
- Retirement plans. This extensive section offers general guidelines on managing savings and other assets during retirement, as well as details about defined contribution plans; immediate annuities, which offer income for life or for a set period of time; IRA and rollover accounts; required minimum distributions from retirement accounts; allocating assets in different types of investment accounts, such as certificates of deposit, money market mutual funds, bonds or bond mutual funds, and other investment vehicles; determining when to liquidate assets; making decisions during economic downturns; investment strategies during retirement years; ideas for diversifying your investments; how to decide how much to withdraw from accounts to help meet living expenses; understanding the tax implications of your decisions; and considerations on converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA.
- Debt. This section covers debt-control strategies during retirement and handling a credit crisis.
- Fraud. This section reviews some common schemes to be on the lookout for, and offers guidance on protecting your personal information from identity theft.
Overall, the http://myretirementpaycheck.org/ site offers a solid foundation for planning for and living in retirement. Check it out.
Family Fundamentals is a monthly column on family issues. It is a service of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Family Fundamentals, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1044, or email@example.com.
Dear Subscriber: This column was reviewed by Christine Olinsky, family and consumer sciences educator with Ohio State University Extension.