Money Matters

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Successful ways to stretch retirement savings

Many budding retirees plan to travel, relax and enjoy the company of their spouses when they officially stop working. But such plans only are possible if men and women take steps to secure their financial futures in retirement.

According to a recent survey by the personal finance education site MoneyTips.com, roughly one-third of Baby Boomers have no retirement plan. The reason some may have no plan is they have misconceptions about how much money they will need in retirement. Successful retirees understand the steps to take and how to live on a budget.

• Have a plan. Many people simply fail to plan for retirement. Even men and women who invest in an employer-sponsored retirement program, such as a 401(k), should not make that the only retirement planning they do. Speak with a financial advisor who can help you develop a plan that ensures you don't outlive your assets.

• Set reasonable goals. Retirement nest eggs do not need to be enormous. Many retirees have a net worth of less than $1 million, and many people live comfortably on less than $100,000 annually. When planning for retirement, don't be dissuaded because you won't be buying a vineyard or villa in Europe. Set reasonable goals for your retirement and make sure you meet those goals.

• Recognize there is no magic wealth-building plan. Saving comes down to formulating a plan specific to your goals, resources, abilities, and skills. Make saving a priority and take advantage of employer-sponsored retirement programs if they are offered.

• Don't underestimate spending. You will need money in retirement, and it's best that you don't underestimate just how much you're going to need. No one wants to be stuck at home during retirement, when people typically want to enjoy themselves and the freedom that comes with retirement. Speak to a financial planner to develop a reasonable estimate of your living expenses when you plan to retire.

• Pay down or avoid debt while you can. Retiring with debt is a big risk. Try to eliminate all of your debts before you retire and, once you have, focus your energy on growing your investments and/or saving money for retirement.

• Start early on retirement saving. It's never too early to begin saving for retirement. Although few twenty-somethings are thinking about retirement, the earlier you begin to invest the more time you have to grow your money. Enroll in a retirement plan now so you have a larger nest egg when you reach retirement age.