Retirement Blog

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 2:30 pm
By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com

Our friends own a very attractive waterfront home they bought 20 years ago in a Florida beach community. They are now in their 80s, and they’d like to move closer to family, where they believe their retirement will be more comfortable. They could sell the property tomorrow if they priced it competitively — still more than they paid — but they are very reluctant to do that because the market price is much less than they are convinced their home is worth.

When the bottom fell out of the real estate market in 2008, many people thought it would recover, and prices would rise quickly.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012 12:14 pm
By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com

Is it a mistake to allow people to claim Social Security at 62 — even at a reduced rate — when we are living longer than we did when the program first started?

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College examined this question and came to the surprising conclusion that the actuarial assumptions made in 1960, reducing the amount of people who claimed at 62, are still a fairly accurate reflection of the cost — even though we’re living 20 years longer.

I think this retirement planning math is interesting and argues strongly for the long-term stability of the Social Security program.

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Monday, March 19, 2012 2:25 pm
By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com

Reverse mortgages used to be something elderly widows considered when they were desperate to pay the bills in their waning years. Today — for better or worse — these complex loans are becoming a key factor in many people’s retirement planning.

The demographics of reverse mortgage borrowers have changed significantly in the last decade. The average age of borrowers in 2003 was 74. By 2009, the average age had dropped to 63. Of the homeowners who went through the Home Equity Conversion Mortgages, or HECM, counseling program in the fall of 2010, 46 percent were younger than 70, and 21 percent were leading-edge baby boomers ages 62 to 64.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012 6:00 am
By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com

Last week, the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 13,000 — its highest point since December 2007. This looks like good retirement planning news for those of us who are trying to figure out how best to finance our retirements with income from investments.

In light of last week’s news, Black Rock, the largest asset-management company in the U.S., offered these five suggestions for maximizing retirement income.

Expand your investment horizons. According to a United Nations population survey, a 65-year-old couple in the U.S. has a 50 percent chance that one of them will live to age 92 and a 25 percent chance that one of them will reach age 97.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012 4:26 pm
By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com

Here are a couple of fine points of retirement planning tax management. Your accountant probably knows all of this, but if you’re the do-it-yourself type or you have a tax preparer who’s new to you, this might be helpful.

CPA Tim Steffen, who is director of financial planning for Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee, says it’s important to keep track of any nondeductible contributions you might have made to a traditional IRA.

Steffen says that while nondeductible contributions have no impact on your tax liability in the year they are made, if you don’t report these contributions on your return using Form 8606, it’s more difficult to …

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012 6:18 pm
By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com

Fidelity Investments, which provides more IRAs and 401(k) plans than any other investment company in the U.S., pointed out today that its 700,000 customers ages 65 to 69 with both a 401(k) and an IRA have an average of $359,000 in their retirement accounts. That’s nearly three times as much as customers have who save

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012 4:25 pm
By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com

Only 14 percent of Americans are very confident that they will have enough money to retire and live comfortably, according to the 22nd annual Employee Benefit Research Institute’s Retirement Confidence Survey released today.

This number hasn’t changed since 2009 when a host of people not too far from retirement lost their jobs. According to the survey, 42 percent see uncertainty over whether they will have a job as their most pressing economic issue.

The survey also emphasizes that many Americans haven’t saved much for retirement. Some 60 percent of workers say — not counting the value of their homes and any old-fashioned defined-benefit pensions they may expect — their savings total less than $25,000.

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Monday, March 12, 2012 2:43 pm
By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com

Check out Bankrate’s Fundamentals of Retirement Plans package of stories posted today by my colleague and Bankrate’s Senior Managing Editor, Barbara Whelehan. It’s a terrific guide to workplace-based retirement planning and saving.
What we didn’t talk about is ways to maximize your retirement savings in that all-important plan. Here are a few thoughts, most of them from Charles Epstein, principal in Epstein Financial Group and author of Paychecks for Life:
Let’s say you start saving 10 percent of your salary when you are 25 and earning $30,000. Your employer kicks in a match — a common employer matching formula is 50 percent of the amount an employee contributes, up to 6 percent of your total annual earnings.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012 6:00 am
By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that the cost of caring for people in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia will be $200 billion in 2012 alone.
About $140 billion of it will be paid for by Medicare and Medicaid. The rest of the costs will fall directly on victims of these diseases and their families. For many, it will dominate their retirement planning and still ruin their retirement.
Harry Johns, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, says spending money to find ways to prevent and treat this disease is critical.
More than 5 million Americans currently live with Alzheimer’s.

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Friday, March 9, 2012 4:04 pm
By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com

If you run a small business or are employed by one, there’s a very good chance you don’t have an employer-sponsored retirement plan.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 29 percent of workers employed by businesses with fewer than 100 employees have access to an employer-sponsored plan. That makes retirement planning tough. By comparison, 81 percent of workers at companies with 100 or more employees have access to employer-sponsored plans.
At a hearing this week held by the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, the General Accounting Office released an analysis that said more owners of small businesses don’t have plans because the plans are expensive and offering them carries with it fiduciary responsibilities that small businesses don’t feel qualified to accept.

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