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Do-it-now retirement planning

By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Posted: 10 am ET

Having a dream makes retirement planning seem less like drudgery.

One of these days my husband and I want to do The Great Loop -- take the boat through the Great Lakes, down the Mississippi River, around the tip of Florida, up the Intracoastal Waterway and through the Erie Canal back to Michigan waters. Doing the loop takes a couple of years, money, good health and planning. We rode past the boat last week. It's shrink-wrapped and sitting on blocks, waiting for better weather, but just looking at it improved our moods. It also motivated us to get moving.

February is a boring month here. It's cold and dark, and there's no boating and no fun. That leaves plenty of time to do some long-range retirement planning.

Here are some things that are on our docket and probably ought to be on yours:

  • Count the money. Before we file taxes, my accountant husband takes a hard look at all of our investments and savings accounts. Are they earning as much as they could?
  • Consider the fees. High fees are a retirement saver's serious enemy. New government rules this year make it easier for you to evaluate how much 401(k)s are charging. I'm pulling out all the information from human resources and reading it.
  • Recalculate the route. It never hurts in boating or financial planning to take another look at where you're headed and what it's going to take to get there.
  • Correct the course. After a rewarding 2010, now is a good time to rebalance investments. It's also wise to make sure we're not forgetting to roll over bonds and CDs. And it's always a good time to increase the amount we're saving.
  • Deal with catastrophe. Our insurance agent is happy to do an annual review of our polices, including life and long-term care insurance. Pulling out the will and other final instructions annually also make good sense.

Next step. Get the boat back in the water.

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4 Comments
Liz Shepherd
February 11, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Despite all complaints being stamped " Do Not Investigate", I have proof that Social Security money was transferred via the International Office to personal accounts.
If you are interested, I can take you back to 1991 Ms. Phipps. That is when the letter from SSA arrived stating that I was to receive a certain amount that was *found* and or *located* at my investment firm becauseit started sending proxy notices out of the clear blue sky.
Again, all complaints, US Dept of Justice, Secret Service, FBI, SLED, SC AG, SSA OIG, Medicare OIG, etc etc are marked " do not investigate".
Maybe, if anyone would investigate, they'd find the financial crisis at the other end of this long dangerous drawn out saga.
Being a whistleblower is rough and tough.
My life is in danger because my identity, like many many others, namely everyone's, has been stolen and used to fraudulently hide SSA money off shore.

Scott A Olson
February 08, 2011 at 11:15 am

Here's some basic advice about long-term care insurance:

The most important thing is to buy it when you're healthy. People with chronic illnesses (like diabetes, heart disease or COPD) can qualify for long-term care insurance if their illness is well-controlled. But, the healthier you are when you buy long-term care insurance, the lower your premium.

Buy a policy that meets the federal guidelines-that's called a "tax-qualified policy."

Buy a policy that meets your state's guidelines-that's called a "Partnership-qualified policy”

Buy a Daily Benefit that is high enough to cover most of the cost of care in your area.

If home care is important to you, make sure the policy allows for all of the Daily Benefit to be used for care at home.

Buy a policy that has a "Policy Limit" that is equal to the amount of your net worth that you want to protect for yourself, spouse, or heirs.

If you’re healthy, you should probably purchase a policy on your own, rather than through your employer.

Choose an insurer that is rated “A” or higher by A.M. Best.
Lastly, shop around. LTC insurance premiums vary a lot from one company to the next. Get quotes from at least 7 of the top companies before choosing your policy.

Scott A. Olson