Saturday, December 12, 2009

Savings Plans for the Year Ahead

By Jorden Meltz

A recent survey shows that Americans plan to make saving for retirement a priority during the next year. TD Ameritrade reports 66% of women surveyed and 59% of men plan to save more money for retirement in 2010. This is yet another lesson learned by many Americans over the past year and a half that budgeting and savings plans are essentials of personal finance and are things that cannot be ignored. Economists predict that in 2010 the personal savings rate will be 4%, the highest level in over a decade. These predictions correlate with the survey results, showing that hopefully many Americans will realize the importance of personal savings and the benefits they can realize from being more financially responsible.

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Benefits of sticking with Retirement Plans

By Jorden Meltz

The recent economic struggles that many have faced impacted the way they planned for retirement and the contribution, if any, they made towards retirement accounts. Although many may have needed the money elsewhere recent reports have shown that if people would have continued to invest and followed their retirement plans they would have more money in their accounts then before the economic downturn. The Vanguard Group Inc. recently announced that 60% of people with retirement accounts who kept their money invested and continued to invest have more money in their accounts then before the market started to decline. Much of these results were dependent upon investment risk, as younger investors were able to recover more of their money at a much quicker and more successful rate than older investors, whom are less likely to take risks while investing. The results of better market performance have also been seen on a larger scale as net worth has increased for the second straight quarter, this time increasing by five percent. Although many may have needed the money for current expenses a lesson to be learned from the past year and a half is that if you have the ability it is worth investing during times of economic downturn as there is great potential to realize large returns.

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Strategies for Retirements

By Jorden Meltz

With the Baby Boomers starting to enter into their retirement years, retirement planning will continue to play a bigger role in financial talks. Included in these talks will be a recent change in the rules governing Roth IRA's. Starting January 1st of next year, the $100,000 limit for converting other types of retirement accounts to Roth IRA's will be removed, providing many who take advantage of this new policy regarding Roth IRA's with great tax benefits. For those who currently have retirement accounts this comes as great news, but what about for those just starting their careers. According to a recent study 30% of workers between 21 and 24 do not take advantage of employer sponsored retirement plans. What these people fail to realize is the benefits of compound interest and that by starting to save today it can greatly increase how much they have saved in retirement accounts when they eventually retire. With the economy the way it has been as of recent it is very possible that people have preferred to have their money then put it away in savings but as the economy starts to recover this rationale will probably change and people will begin to realize the benefits of starting to retire at a young age.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Divorce = Retirement?

By Jameel Murray

Has Shaquille O’neal’s recent divorce situation forced him to retire early? Shaquille O’neal has stated that he would retire after this 2009-2010-basketball season. Although we do not expect him to pull off the Brett Favre approach, rumors are swirling that Shaq is deciding to announce his retirement from the game of basketball before the end of this season. Shaq has been a dominant player in the NBA for 17 seasons and is considerably now facing the effects of the wear and tear of the league. Although the NBA can take a toll on players, players of Shaq’s caliber have endured the game for a longer period. Is it possible that Shaq is retiring due to his recent divorce process? Shaq’s wife, Shaunie O’neal has recently filed for divorce from the Cleveland Cavaliers center. Since the announcement of the divorce, Shaq’s stats have considerable decreased. Shaq is averaging a career low 10.9 points per game and has missed a couple of games due to injury. If O’Neal does decide to retire, he would be considered one of the greatest big men to ever play the game of basketball.

Life after the game

by Jameel Murray

When an athlete finally dips into the tricky life of fame and stardom, they never seem to understand that all great things must come to an end. There would come a point in time where what once was great would be outdated someday. All athletes must retire at a point in time due to the weariness and instability of their bodies that eventually relegates them to live a normal life after retirement. Some professional athletes are prepared for life after retirement, using their athletic careers, as a tool to serve as businessmen, commentators, coaches, and other careers.
However, there are many sport icons who are not prepared for a life after professional sports and consequently engage in detrimental activity. For example, after O.J Simpson retired from football, he never engaged in a career that occupied his time after a short-lived career. As a result, Simpson seemed to take part in reckless activities and had multiple issues with the law. Athletes must value education and recognize that there is life after sports. Athletes such as Michael Jordan have utilized their abilities to venture off into successful post retirement careers. Jordan is now the CEO and chairman of the Jordan Brand while former Phoenix Suns guard, Kevin Johnson has enjoyed a career as the mayor of Sacramento.

Be smart: start saving

By Alma Zhumagulova

Many baby-boomers watched large portion of their savings get lost in the financial crisis. Some of them might now be considering taking their money out of the market to be on the safe side; however, this is not the right move. Even if it will take some time, the market will recover and your savings will go up. So don’t stop investing and try to maximize your contribution, change your investment strategy to more conservative investments, such as certificates of deposit and mutual funds and invest less into stocks.
Now for the younger generation: it is vital to remember that at some point you will grow old and stop working. So be a responsible adult and start planning for your future.
When saving for your retirement you should have at least some picture of how you want to spend your retirement. This will give you an idea of how much you need to save.
Since it is hard to restrain yourself from overspending, “put your savings on autopilot,” i.e. enroll in 401(k), open a traditional or Roth IRA, so that some portion of your paycheck goes directly to your savings account. Roth IRA is probably the most preferable option if you qualify.
Even though it might seem that the retirement planning is such a complicated process you should not procrastinate to start this process. Make decisions, make mistakes and learn from them.
And finally, make sure that you are saving regularly; this will ensure that your investment will steadily grow even if at a slower pace.


401 K Plans Face Criticism

By, Meredith Anderson

A 401K plan is a pension plan that allows you to put aside and save for retirement throughout your years of work. It was originated in 1978 with the passing of the Tax Reform Act. The government thought that Americans needed and little push and incentive to save for retirement. Its a way to put aside a portion of your pay check directly into an investment account and defer income taxes until withdrawal. Once you have retired you are given back the money and the profit you have earned on the investment. If you decide to retrieve your money before the age of 59.5 you will receive a penalty of 10% additional taxes. The plan was titled after the section 401 paragraph K in the Internal Revenue Code.

With a 401K you have a side saving. With many people struggling to pay bills and keep their lives moving day by day 401K plans are being viewed in a less positive light. Many feel that they need to focus on today and not 20 years from now. People are willing to dip into their retirement funds to stay alive today without realizing how much harder it could be in the future. There is much debate between experts whether or not this is a smart move. Most will agree that taking out of this plan to simply pay of credit card debt is not smart, however there is much debate on whether or not there are better places to be investing you money. Some are saying GOLD is the way to invest rather then your retirement?


Types of Retirement Plans

By Shawn Chandok

One of the most troublesome scenarios a lot of people face during their lifetimes is savings required for retirement. Although it is generally true you should start saving at least 20% of your income when your 18, not everyone does it. Once you begin working, there are several types of retirement plans you might consider. First and foremost there are defined benefit (DB) plans. In a DB plan you are guaranteed a minimum monthly amount of money upon retirement based upon a mathematical formula on how long you worked for the firm and your average salary. On the other hand, in a defined contribution plan (DC) your employer promises to provide a certain amount of money to you after retirement. However this money doesn’t have to be cash, instead it can be a form of company stock or mutual fund, which translates to a higher risk and higher possible return. A popular type of DC plan includes a cash or deferred arrangement (CODA) in which you can also make donations to your account in addition to your employer. A good strategy is to choose a retirement plan that gives you after tax dollars upon retirement because at age 59.5+ you do not want to worry about a substantial portion of your income depleting to past taxes.


Early Retirement...What's a good offer?

By Robert Katz

With the economy the way it is right now and the exceptionally high rate of unemployment, companies are continuously looking for ways to decrease their costs. One of the common strategies they would use would be to encourage older employees to consider early retirement plans. Yet, when preparing for retirement we usually have a set date in mind in which we would have, or hope to have, met our financial goals. So, when considering and early retirement package you must be very careful to make sure the deal is substantial enough to cover the loss of your expected future income. There are some important things to consider such as the financial health of the company; for if you think you may loss your job before you planned to retire any package may look that much more attractive. Also assess the market to see if there are any other opportunities for you in the job market else where. Review what you are being offered and always make sure you know how you are going to be receiving the packages benefits. Making sure to assess your expenses and the taxes you'll have to pay due to the acceptance the package as well because these can make it seem significantly more attractive than it actually is. You should also always make a counter offer because it is more likely than not that due to the economic situation they will initially offer you less than what they are actually able to give you to save on costs. Finally, always make sure to read the fine print.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Best 401k Plans

By: Nicole Nelson

401k plans can be a great help when planning for retirement. A 401k is a plan that when an employee takes part in, they defer income taxes on the money saved. Employers that offer these plans have the choice to match a portion or all of the employee’s contributions. A company that offers employees the choice of enrolling in a 401k plan, is a great benefit that potential employees should consider when researching companies and jobs. Recently, Brightscope who is a company that provides independent retirement plan ratings has released its first ever top 30 rating list of 401k plans of companies that have more than $1 billion in assets. Topping this list includes Saudi Arabian Oil, Bank of New York Mellon, Southwest Airlines, Nucor and FedEx. Other recognizable companies that made the list include ExxonMobil, Pfizer, Nokia, Charles Schwab, IBM, Microsoft and UBS. These companies were ranked on criteria such as participation rate, default rate, fees and employer match. Over the years this company has rated more than 26,000 plans. This has included more than 30 million workers and over $1.9 trillion in assets. Although working for a company on this list is great in terms of 401k, 401k’s are not the only thing that should be considered when completing a job search and planning for retirement. It is the combination of a good 401k, personal savings and other retirement planning that makes a good retirement plan.

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Invest in Several Asset Classes

By: Zachary Pienkowski

One of the top priorities for many young professionals is being able to save enough money in order to retire comfortably. A lot of companies will offer retirement programs like 401k's, but while that is a good start for retirement, in most cases it will fall short of meeting goals. People need to diversify their retirement portfolio not only with different stocks and bonds, but also with different assets. Everyone knows that you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket, but that doesn't mean they know where to put them either. One important aspect of retirement planning that is greatly overlooked is permanent life insurance. 401k's and many other retirement vehicles are deceiving to the average person because they are not aware of the tax consequences in these accounts. All withdrawals from a 401k are subject to taxation on the way out. Some might say that is not a big deal tho because you are deferring the taxes and not paying them when you put into the account. Now what happens if you enter a much higher tax bracket because you are making more money later in life? That is something that needs to be considered because proper tax planning is just as important as what investments you choose. Permanent Whole Life insurance is an investment that gains cash value and can be taken out of the policy completely tax free. Most insurance professionals advise not to take the entire amount of the cash value out so that the policy does not lapse, but if you feel there is no need for the insurance anymore but there is $2 million in cash value and you want it, then you are entitled to the entire $2 million which is 100% payable to you.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The 10 Best Retirement Havens

Posted by Ahmed Al-Salem
Forbes has compiled its own list of the 10 best retirement havens, based on a wide variety of criteria ranging from safety to retiree-friendly visa requirements to decent medical care. The countries on the list: Austria, Thailand, Italy, Panama, Ireland, Australia, France, Malaysia, Spain and Canada. No place is perfect. Some countries rank high in one area but lower in others. Australia is by one well-regarded rating, the Country Brand Index, the most livable place in the world. But if you plan to return to the U.S. frequently, Australia makes for a long slog. Canada is No. 2 in the Country Brand ratings and certainly convenient for Americans, but its harsh winters are well-known. Italy scores high on quality of life, medical care, and even cost of living and climate for retirees residing in the Southern parts of the country. But its complicated taxes and bureaucracy require patience. So, the key to any decision: Know yourself and do your homework. If you're a sun-worshiper determined to protect your assets from overreaching Western governments, consider countries like Panama or Malaysia. If you are solidly middle-class with a taste for high culture, then there are pleasant surprises to be found in Europe. Are you eager to live abroad but totally tone-deaf to foreign languages? That's a fine argument for Australia, Ireland or Canada.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Are Happy Retirements Out of the Picture?

By, Meredith Anderson

Retirement seems like a distant fantasy to many people. With this economy in the shape it is today people are focusing on surviving year by year rather then planning their futures on the beach. People are thinking about how much they lost rather then what they can still save.

Its been over a year since the recession began and 401k plans and IRAs are almost back to where they were. A lot was lost in the recession and there is no argument that retirement took a big hit. Money does not grow on trees and unless you win the lottery you will have to suffer a little from this loss. However, this doesn't mean all we have to look forward to is number crunching and trying to scramble for money with no income. We just need to reevaluate our priorities and realize that retirement can still be easy and enjoyable. By changing our lifestyles now we are already headed in the right direction. Realizing retirement is about your happiness means that you might need to cut the grandchildren spending a bit, but you can still sit on the beach without worrying about money if you face reality that retirement will come. There are unless plans and companies willing to help you with your specific needs. Asking for help is the hardest part.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

401K recovery leaves people with more money in their account than before

Posted By Pete Hill

DES MOINES — Another major provider of 401(k) accounts says the typical retirement saver now has more money in their account than they did before the stock market began tumbling two years ago.

The Vanguard Group said Wednesday that 60% of participants who continued to contribute and stayed invested have more money in their accounts than they had in September 2007 — before the market decline.

IF YOU DIDNT KEEP INVESTING? For stocks, be prepared to wait 5 years
That means 40% of continuous participants have lower balances, although Vanguard said most of them are less than 20% below their earlier peak value.

Younger workers with smaller balances caught up the quickest. Nine in 10 participants under age 25 were flat or were ahead of their balance two years ago. About eight in 10 workers in their mid-20s to mid-30s had recovered to 2007 levels. However, just half of the participants in their 50s and 60s have recovered or gained slightly while half have not.

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When is the Correct Time to Retire?

Post by David Held

All Americans look forward to the day he/she can stop working and retire. The big question is when you retire will you be financially secure? In today’s day and age the true answer to that question could be NEVER! With the terrible economy many people lost upward of 50% of their retirement savings, in the forms of IRA’s, Mutual Funds, Stocks, and defaulted bonds. Now, the next place to look for money is social security, but is the social security program going to be around in the next 10 years? Also, if the program is still around you cannot collect on Social Security until you are 67 years old.

The safest way to save for retirement is by putting your money away in money market accounts and CDs, through your bank. The key is to start saving early! There is a huge difference when you start saving for retirement in your twenties rather than your thirties. Another important thing is, when looking for jobs make sure the retirement benefits are good. Defined Benefit and Define Contribution Plans can really help put a lot of money toward your retirement.

All in all, you have to invest wisely. The economy is cyclical and somewhat predictable. Consult a financial advisor early, so you can be financially stable when you retire!

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Social Security and Its Future

By Laura Reginelli

According to eHow, Social Security is “the common term for the U.S. government's group of public disability and pension schemes. Starting in 1935, they have collectively become the single largest social program in the United States. In modern times, the stability of Social Security has come into question due to an increasingly aging population placing greater demands on a stagnant or shrinking pool of resources.”

Due to shaky economic times recently, the future of Social Security is constantly being questioned. Many fear that it may disappear by the time that they can retire. According to experts, the system will be functioning to its maximum capacity until 2042, but around there the returns to workers will start to decrease quite dramatically.

In the meanwhile, Social Security serves as a means for both retirement and disability income which is funded by payroll taxes. Social Security essentially works in a cyclic pattern in which you give money to the system through your paycheck and that money goes to current retirees. Then when you are retired the money will be coming from payroll taxes of current employees.

Social Security is generally a heated topic of debate. Many are unsure of the future for the program, if it will continue and if it should be reformed to work differently. It is clear that it will continue to be an important topic of discussion as we go through this economically changing time period.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Retirement Planning Strategies

Posted By: Pete Hill

Retirement savings is a main priority for many people once they graduate from college. However, many people do not know how to appropriately take risks and when to play it safe throughout their lives. In these articles, they describe the best times to take on risk, and the best time to be safe.

Retirement planning for people in their twenties is classified as “starting out strong”. The first investment goal is to build up the emergency fund. In addition, using bonuses achieved through work, and left over profits each month, after paying the bills, will give young people a strong foundation.

Once you reach your mid-career point, it is time to reduce retirement plan risk. With college and retirement worries forming, it is important to take less risk with the retirement portfolio.

Once you have retired it is important to remember to not invest like you are thirty years old, and create a safety net under you. A safe way to reduce risk and create a safety net is by raising their bond and cash allocation to 30 percent while reducing exposure to small-cap stocks and foreign funds.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Building a Nest Egg

Article by Matthew Maillet

It is never too early to plan for your retirement. There are many strategies for saving for retirement that will help you be in better position once you decide to finally retire. While many of these strategies seem obvious at first, it is very important to take advantage on some of these basic ideals. Try finding a strategy that meets your current working conditions as well as your retirement goals.

Saving as much as possible from your regular income is the easiest way to protect your retirement fund. Obviously, the earlier you start saving the better. Building a strong nest egg will help you in avoiding market fluctuations in the future. The greater the nest egg the greater your financial security going into retirement.

Always stay focused on keeping your current job security. The longer you keep your current job and the more you postpone social security, the bigger your social security check will eventually be. Staying in the current workforce allows you to avoid having to tap in to your nest egg—thus, make sure to postpone having to spend your current savings as long as possible.

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How to get started in a 401 (k)

Posted by: Christina Dove

With the current recession going on right now, many people are weary about investing too much money in their 401(k)'s. However, although this may be somewhat justified, the best advice is to still invest the maximum amount that you can and participate in the catch up contributions as soon as you turn 50. Many people are under the misconception that is it not worth putting the money away now if retirement is so far off. It is a known fact that the more money that you save and the earlier you start, the more enjoyable your retirement years will be.

The other reason you don't want to focus on the short-term fluctuations and flows of the economy is that such an approach is antithetical to retirement planning. Only by saving and investing regularly throughout our working years will most of us accumulate a sum large enough to maintain our pre-retirement standard of living. The 401(k) makes that sort of regular saving and investing possible in large part because of the ease and convenience of payroll deductions. The 401 (k) is crucial aspect of the 3-legged stool that makes up people's retirement income, the other 2 stools being social security and personal savings.

The last important point about 401 (k)'s is that it is important to diversify your portfolio. Many people learned that lesson the hard way lost at lot of money once the tech bubble bursted. Employees should remember to include a variety of stocks that both do well when the economy is up or down.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Future of Social Security

Posted by Lindsey Connell

As many of us have heard, it is true that Social Security benefits are experiencing financial problems. It is expected that over the next 75 years, there will be a massive and growing shortfall and because people are living longer, the worker to beneficiary ration has decreased from 16-1 in 1950 to 3-1 currently. If Social Security is not increased, there will be higher taxes to pay and benefits for younger employees will have to be cut. The government also will have to eventually pay back all the money it borrowed to provide Social Security, but how can it do that if they are currently looking to borrow more? As a country we now look to our President to fix the mess that we currently have and will have in the future unless corrected. When many people plan on retiring, they factor in receiving Social Security as part of their income but it seems that this reassurance of money is slipping away. People planning for retirement at the early stages of their lives can no longer count on Social Security to be there in the future because it is unknown if there will be enough money left to benefit them by the time they consider retiring.

Where to Retire to: Considerable Factors

Posted by Lindsey Connell

Although the average retirement age has increased recently, people are still planning ahead as to where they would like to spend their retirement days. When considering where to live, most people consider factors such as city/town profile, tax information, education opportunities, and more minor things such as weather and art and cultural activities. A great area to live in is a college area and more people are beginning to move there as they discover the great benefits of doing so. In a college town there are cultural activities, athletic events, and good medical facilities which make the area so appealing to retirees. Florida seems to be up there as a top state to retire to mainly for the attractions, and the fact that there are great places to fish and go on a cruise. According to MSN Money Staff, the best place to retire to is Cuenca, Ecuador. They chose this area because it is in a sunny, cosmopolitan, and inexpensive location. Although areas have been voted best or worst places to retire to, everyone’s opinion is different. When choosing a place to move to, you should consider what is most important to you. If safety comes before weather to you, thank you may have to choose an area that has little to no crime but is often rainy. At the end of the day, you probably won’t be able to get everything you want but in some areas you can definitely get pretty close.

Retirement: The Scary Truth About What The Future Holds

Posted by Lindsey Connell

When people thought of retirement they used to think of vacationing and living life without a worry about working or making money. Today, this idea of retirement is completely different because of the thought that social security will probably not be around forever, and for the fact that there are more people in the world now, less jobs available than before, and the value of money has decreased. To make up for these changes, many people choose to either work for more years prior to retiring or to work part-time during their planned retirement years. For the average person, the retirement age used to be 65 years old, but today it has increased to 67. This may seem like a small increase to some, but because the number has been consistently at 65 for so long, the sudden jump in age is a concern about not only the present, but about what it can increase to in the future. This is also concerning because it makes you wonder at what age will the increase stop. Will the average retirement age increase to 70? 75? If the retirement age increases more than an increase in the average life expectancy than there will come a point where people will be literally working until the day they die.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Consider a Career in Health Care

By Lingxiao Li

Senior year means job unting and heavy schoolwork. Recently, for most of us, job security could mean a lot.
For all the hand-wringing about the weaknesses of health care, one aspect of it has remained strong: its ability to provide jobs. In fact, health care employment has increased during the recession, while employment as a whole has declined, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Within the private sector, more than 11 percent of the American work force is engaged in health care work, compared with just 3 percent before 1960, the bureau says.
Regardless of how health care reform shakes out, the industry jobs picture is likely to remain robust, given the aging population and technological advances in medicine.
High school and college students take note: the positions expected to post some of the largest increases include registered nurses; personal and home care aides; home health aides; nursing aides, orderlies and attendants; medical assistants; licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses; pharmacy technicians; and physicians and surgeons.

Changing Expectations for Retirement

By: Kelsey Hoffman

People have expectations for their lives and how they want to live them. By the time it is ready to retire, many people would rather continue their lives of luxury than sacrifice anything to cut costs. There is a new trend in the older generation where people, even though they are eligible for Social Security, continue to work longer so that when they do finally retire they don’t need to change their lifestyles. 95% of people say they would not be willing to spend less during retirement.

To go along with this, the younger generations are starting to save money sooner so that they will be able to retire more easily. They are also increasing their contributions to their retirement funds.

In this past year many people realized how important their retirement funds are. Before the recession, 43% of American households were “at risk” of not being able to maintain their current lifestyles during retirement. After the second quarter in 2009, this number increased to 51%. There were many factors that affected retirement funds but the real estate market decline, the drop in the stock market, and the increase in the costs of health care were three major aspects that influenced the funds.


Retirement plans- 401(k) benefits

Posted by Lindsey Connell

A company’s retirement plan may be exactly what you were looking for bit it will not be as beneficial as it seems unless you know how to use it. Many companies provide great benefits but without providing knowledge on how to extend the life of the benefits or how to plan for your retirement properly, you won’t be able to get the most out of what is provided to you. Traditional pensions where employers send retired employees a check every month for the rest of their lives are becoming increasingly rare. As for Social Security, the average benefit is less than $13,000 a year and the future of social security benefits is rocky for the future. 401(k) plans are types of tax-qualified deferred compensation plan where an employee can elect to have their employer contribute a portion of their wages before taxes are taken out. It is important to note that if you withdraw money from your retirement plan before the age of 59 ½, you are subject to an early distribution penalty of 10% additional tax. Retirement may seem like a long ways away but it is important to plan for it early if you want to receive benefits in the future such as free money from your employer, lower taxable income, savings that accumulate without you having to make deposits, and the opportunity to retire knowing that you are financially secure.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Health Care Savings Could Start in the Cafeteria

By Lingxiao Li

Obesity alone threatens to overwhelm the system. In a recent study, Kenneth Thorpe, chairman of the department of health policy and management at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, found that if trends continued, annual health care costs related to obesity would total $344 billion by 2018, or more than 20 percent of total health care spending. (It now accounts for 9 percent.)At first blush, the notion of eating our way out of huge public health challenges like obesity, diabetes and heart disease may seem an overly simplistic and idealistic fix for complex, multifaceted problems. But health experts say that, in fact, an apple a day does keep the doctor away, and that many studies prove it.As part of the program, the Full Yield will give employees access to nutrition coaches by phone, as well as personalized online health pages containing the biometric data, exercise and eating tracking tools and information on things like how to cook whole grains and make salad dressing.We feel certain this will have an effect on our bottom line,” she says, “but it will probably take a few years to get there.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Retire In Style

By Eric Gursky

It's said that human beings stand out from other species by virtue of our ability to think and plan ahead. While that may be true, most of us also have great trouble thinking about or preparing for the long term in the middle of our daily tasks and toil. Heck, it's difficult enough to plan something just six months ahead, like a summer vacation. How on earth are we supposed to be able to think about something in the distant future -- like retirement?

However, thinking in advance, and acting on those thoughts, are keys to being ready when the future becomes the present. The younger you are, the more distant your retirement -- and the greater your ability to compound your returns over time. That paradox can work to your advantage.

In this collection, we try to answer the important questions:

  • How much will I need for my retirement in order to live comfortably?
  • What are my goals?
  • When should I start?
  • What should I do?
  • How much can I count on from Social Security?
  • What costs might I run into once I've actually retired?
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Late Start? Retirement Planning is Still Critical

By Eric Gursky

It is an unfortunate fact that 28% of workers 55 or older have less than $10,000 saved. Those who have waited too long should not grieve about the past and take action as soon as possible. The road to having a retirement will not be an easy one and some sacrifices need to be made. It is a lot harder to start saving after 35 but even when this is the scenario, people still need to come up with a magic number or the amount they want to acquire by retirement. For example, someone who is 55 years old and earns $40,000 a year would need to save 27% of their income to be able to retire at 65.

Those who have waited to retire now need to put away as much as they can. To be in the position to put away more money, a person may have to relocate to find a higher paying job, pick up an extra part time job, and cut other expenses. Some suggestions for cutting expenses include selling your house to rent, selling off excess property you don't need, and eating at home instead of dining out. Other recommendations lean towards working until 70 because it gives you more time to save and your actual retirement length will be shorter. Along with working longer comes the option of waiting to receive social security. If you wait until your full retirement age, the social security benefit will not be reduced. This reduction can reach 30% if you choose to take it early. There is also an option to delay your benefit until after your full retirement age which can increase it by up to 8% a year.

For specific retirement options, it is still not to late if you are 50 or older to start an IRA. Even though you will not be able to take full advantage of compound interest, the money can still experience nice growth before being tapped. People over 50 who are saving in a regular or Roth IRA can save an extra $1,000 a year bringing the total allowed savings to $6,000 annually. Likewise, individuals who are 50 and over that have a 401k can save an extra $5,000 a year making the maximum contribution $20,500. While IRAs and 401(k) plans have tax deferred growth, the Roth IRA has tax free growth. While these are great options, you actually need to be making the money to save. For those who can't, social security should not be underestimated and may replace up to 25% or more of your current income.

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Monday, November 9, 2009


By Eric Gursky

IF your retirement assets took a beating in the recent stock market decline, converting a traditional I.R.A. to a Roth I.R.A. may be one of the best tax strategies this year.

When you do the conversion, you must pay income tax on the amount you are converting. This can be the whole account or a portion of it. But, subject to certain restrictions, no tax is assessed when the money is withdrawn. You also avoid the requirement to take yearly minimum distributions beginning at age 70 1/2, which can leave more for your heirs if you don’t use the money yourself.

How much you benefit from the conversion will depend on how the investments do subsequently, but there is great potential. Consider Albert Horrigan, 66, a semi-retired real estate broker in Sarasota, Fla., who converted a $50,000 I.R.A. to a Roth I.R.A. in 1998.

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By Eric Gursky

Retirement means saving and securing a future after work. There are necessary steps that must be taken in order to see the best returns. There are three things to consider when planning for your retirement. First you should
1) Assess your retirement.
a. You can keep track of your progress with retirement savings calculators such as the one available on Charles Schwab’s website.

2) Develop a retirement savings plan.
a. You should consider some strategies for saving. Most strategies fall under three types of plans. Qualified plans, which are plan set up by employers to give employees retirement saving opportunities. Individual Retirement Accounts, which is a personal savings plan that provides tax advantages. The three main advantages is that you may be able to deduct your contributions in whole or in part during the tax year you make the contribution, contributions are generally not taxed until distributed, and the IRA fills in the gaps in other tax-favored ways to save for retirement. And last there are Non-qualified Plans, which is an employer-sponsored retirement or other deferred compensation plan that does not meet the tax-qualification in a lower tax bracket.
b. You should diversify your retirement savings into a variety of asset classes
c. Build a portfolio in line with your long-term goals and risk tolerance

3) Explore ways to save
a. Maximize contributions to your existing 401k, 403b, 457
b. Establish a traditional or Roth IRA
c. Consider an individual 401(k), SEP-IRA, or profit-sharing plan if you own a small business.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Obama Seeks New Payments for Retirees

By Eric Gursky
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama called on Congress Wednesday to approve $250 payments to more than 50 million seniors to make up for no increase in Social Security next year.

The White House put the cost at $13 billion.

The Social Security Administration is scheduled to announce Thursday that there will be no cost of living increase next year. By law, increases are pegged to inflation, which has been negative this year.

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Covering college-tuition loans -- somebody give me some credit!

Posted by Nick Porcell

With two daughters in college, tuition loan repayments were stacking up, and my wife and I felt the weight of multiple monthly payments kicking in. We began to realize what a job it was to keep track of all the loans, and figured there had to be a better way.

Remembering we'd gotten good advice from the credit union on retirement accounts and mortgage refinancing, and eager to avoid any lender that smelled like last year's banking industry meltdown, we called our adviser to set up a new strategy for squeezing tuition payments into the family budget.

The good news came quickly. "Call the loan office in the morning," our adviser said. He agreed that using the equity we'd built up in our home to pay tuition bills would liberate us from the structured federal loan programs. If things went as expected, it would allow us to repay on our own terms, at 3.99 percent (I know!), and 'defer' if we needed to, by making only minimum payments in tight months.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Surprise! That 401(k) Account Is Looking Good

By: Shea McCabe

Written by Karen Blumenthal

Get this: despite the biggest and broadest decline in financial markets in a generation, the median 401(k) retirement account at Vanguard Group on September 30, 2009 was up 7% from where it was two years earlier, when the market was at an all time high.

Seems impossible, doesn't it?

If you've looked at your investments lately, you might be surprised at how much they've rebounded as the DOW Jones Industrial Average has climbed back above 10,000, especially if you've got a healthy mix of stocks and bonds and you've continued to make contributions.

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Best Ways to Save for Retirement!

By Eric Gursky
If your a young college student like me and the rest of our class you are probably wondering what are the best ways to secure a safe future. In order to best prepare for your eventual retirement there are keys steps that need to taken which will ensure a smooth ride to the finish. Start early: You can't predict market downturns or what happens to Social Security. But you can control how much you save, and the sooner you start, the easier it is to build a rock-solid nest egg

Save regularly: Saving $4,000 might be a stretch if you're just getting on your feet. But putting away even small amounts now can make a difference.

Say you land a job making $45,000. You sign up to contribute 3 percent to the company 401(k) plan, or about $52 every other week. If you do just that for the next 40 years, you'd have about $400,000 as you near retirement

Don't Confuse Saving with Investing.

I am sure many of you are intent on saving for a house, a car, higher education or something else. By all means, continue saving, but don't invest your savings in stocks and stock mutual funds if you plan to make a large purchase within the next four to five years. Remember, investing will work wonders for you, if and only if, you put time on your side. Time periods of less than five years may not give you enough time to recover from a substantial market drop.

Though some of you have never experienced a sustained down market ( otherwise known as a "Bear Market"), let me assure you that they are not a thing of the past.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Retirement Readiness Falls on Housing Market

By: Eric Gursky

Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Fewer U.S. households are prepared for retirement after the value of their homes and investment portfolios declined in the recession, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. said.

Fifty-one percent of Americans would be unable to maintain their standard of living if they retired at age 65, compared with 44 percent in 2007, the insurer said today in a statement, citing the National Retirement Risk Index it developed with the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. The estimate is “conservative” because it doesn’t include medical costs or long-term care, the insurer said.

“The real problem behind this is that so many households were dependant on their home values,” Paul Ballew, a senior vice president of customer insights and analytics at Nationwide, said in an interview. “Once home prices came back down to normal levels, we wake up one day and realize we don’t have adequate savings.”

Americans are facing a decline in the value of their homes and other assets at the same time the U.S. government is pushing back the age that retirees qualify for full Social Security benefits. The average 401(k) retirement savings account fell by almost one-third in 2008, and people aren’t saving enough to make up the difference, Ballew said.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Is Working Through Retirement the New Trend?

By: Eric Gursky
When people think of retirement they imagine the days playing golf and sipping on an umbrella drink somewhere warm. That society norm was 10 years ago, now that our economy has rapidly changed and people's 401k futures are less secure we are seeing an increasing number of 65+ workers still playing a major role in the workforce.
In fact, Marc Freedman, author of Prime Time, describes how the baby boomers will transform how society views retirement -- bringing about a new image of aging, retirement, and the role of older Americans in our society. He cites statistics that show that in just a few years the number of folks over age 50 will surpass a quarter of the U.S. population. And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that baby boomers are reaching the age of 60 at the rate of one every seven seconds. Many of these folks will be searching for something beyond a leisurely retirement. Whether you work after age 65 will depend on many factors -- whether you have a defined-benefit plan or retiree health insurance, whether you are in good health, whether you can find work. But make no mistake about it: Some of you will work past age 65 and earned income will play a significant role in your finances. Of course, this new reality is often a function of need, particularly with the recent downturn, Freedman said. "But social norms are fast changing," he said. "Many folks simply want to continue to go to work to engage with other people. It makes them happier and gives them a greater sense of purpose." After all, earning a paycheck in your latter years can make a huge difference in retirement living standards. Pocketing even a slim income often allows retirement portfolios to compound over a longer period of time.

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Best Countries for Retirement

By: Eric Gursky
If you could move to any country of your choice to retire with the most secure pension benefits, which would you pick? By and large, experts who study pension systems say no country is a retirement Shangri-La, though certainly some places do better than others in providing for retirees' financial security.

"I am having a hard time dredging up a country where things are copacetic," said Olivia S. Mitchell, a professor and director of the Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Research at The Wharton School. "Everyone pretty much has been hit by the global financial crisis and virtually everyone is confronting the aging revolution."

Others agreed. "We always regard this as a dreaded question: Which country has the best pension system?" said Edward Whitehouse of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which this summer published a definitive examination of pensions in 30 developed countries.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Singers Never Retire

Posted By Shawn Gao

Many people plan to make their retirement in their golden year; however; some of people may not want to retire. These people are singers who are enjoying making their music. Even though these people are making millions of money for one year, they don't even think how they will do after they retire. The most famous rap singer- Jay- Z announced that he would never retire. Also, some of singers, like Tom Jones, said no to retirement. Why are singers so different from residents? Why don't they want to have early retirement?
Singers like Tom Jones who are nearly 70 years old, are enjoying their musical journeys, and have no plans to make. Tom Jones said that the older he gets, he enjoys what he has done and what's happened through his career. Most of singers have the same ideas as Tom Jones has. When they get elder and elder, they want to keep making more music as they could. Also, they do not want to make their fans sad.
Some singers, like country singer Garth Brooks, has announced he is ending his semi- retirement and signed up for an extended run of dates in Las Vegas. Many singers retire in their middle career, and return to the platforms later on.
For those fans, they are lucky enough to follow their never ever retired singers.

Work Keeps You Healthy In Retirement

Posted by Shawn Gao

A new study informs it is better to continue to work after retiring, as it helps in having fewer diseases and fewer functional limitations than those who quit work completely.

The study published in the October issue of the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology shows, a part-time job or self-employment or ‘bridge employment’ is generally good for health after retiring officially.
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Friday, October 16, 2009

When Early Retirement Is The Only Option

By Quang Nguyen

Many people have their life plan mapped out since they are in their 20s. People like artist Richard Freund knew that he would work until he was 70 years old while his wife, a psychotherapist planned to work until she turned 62. They planned how their retirement was going to be with all of their investments and work benefits. And then came the recession. People just simply can't find work. For the more educated and wealthier group of people, things might come easy as they have the resources to work out a deal somehow, but for the majority of the labor market, things do not look too well. For many of them, retirement is the only option. It is a terrible situation to be in, but there is nothing they can do about it.

People are feeling scared. This is the first time since the great depression that put people into this situation. Some might try to find another job and get back to work. Most economists would suggest people to try to find another job to get that extra income that they don't have. Some are thinking of getting their social security benefits. However, they must work at least 10 years in order to qualify for the benefits. One good thing about the social security system is that they adjust the money amount into today dollar. For example, if you earn $5,000 in 1967, it will be $39,000 today.

The government is also doing its best to improve the situation. In October, President Obama called for Congress to approve $250 payment to as much as 50 millions seniors to make up for the fact that Social Security will not increase next year. The White House estimated that the cost to this plan will be $13 billion. Although $250 might not be that much, it would really help those who are in trouble. Although the result of this program is not yet to know, it sure would calm people down and support them through this difficult time.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Is the Recession Helping Us Live Longer?

posted by Jameel Murray

Last week I posted an article discussing the effects of the recession, which are forcing citizens to work through retirement. Because employees do not have the proper savings to retire due to the recession, many are forced to work past the retirement age minimum. Even though it may sound a bit difficult, it may actually be a great thing for most. Recent studies have shown that those who work temporary or part time jobs after the retirement age are physically and mentally healthier than those that are fully retired. Researchers interviewed an estimated amount of 12,200 people every two years over a six-year period. This may not seem surprising for most but can we actually give credit to a grueling recession for keeping our citizens healthy?
Retirees who continue to work past the retirement age function better daily and suffer 17 percent fewer diseases than those who actually retire. Studies have also discovered that those who do tend to fully retire often die sooner. According to Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational psychologists at the University of Lancaster, if one’s mental wellbeing is depleted it will affect you physically. In conclusion, the recession has condensed our wealth, however it has proven to complement our health.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Retirement: When time IS an issue

By Jonathan Tse

It is very important to start saving up for retirement early on in one's life because unexpected things can happen later on, so one must be prepared to have enough money to last until long after retirement. For those who started later, there are still ways to live comfortably and not have to save massive amounts of money in the last few years of work.
In this type of situation, one must continue to invest no matter what the amount. Also, the investment should contain a good mix of something like 50% stocks, 40% bonds and 10% cash. One should not only rely on stocks because it is very risky to only rely on stocks, so bonds should also take up a big part of one's portfolio. Even though stocks are not earning as much as they did, having a diverse portfolio of stocks and holding them for a longer time will still give one decent profits in any type of economic situation. Holding too much of only one company's stock would be risky no matter how well a company is doing because of the uncertainties of business, so diversification helps reduce these risks. Some other things that can be done is to max out one's 401(k) and to take advantage of the $5000 provision for people over the age of 50. Try to find more ways to get the most out of investments and savings by finding and switching over to ones with the most interest rates and lower fees.
It pays to start early and save as much as one can when one has the ability to earn more.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The right way to unretire

Posted by Quang Nguyen

Tom Wogan loves working with his hands, especially building fishing rods and restoring World War II Army knives. So when he retired in June 2006 at age 60 from his $110,000-a-year job as a shift manager at the Florida City nuclear power plant near his home in Palmetto Bay, Fla., he looked forward to spending carefree days puttering around his garage working on his hobbies. With a retirement portfolio worth $1.1 million, Wogan thought he was all set.

Then the bottom fell out of the stock market. Wogan's cool million plummeted 36% in a matter of months; since then, as he's tapped savings to meet living expenses, his portfolio has dropped further and is now worth just $630,000. That's hardly enough to last Wogan and his wife, Pamela, 55, into ripe old age -- especially since her job as a graphic designer pays only $32,000 a year and the Wogans still pay a mortgage and aren't done with college tuition for three of their four children yet.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Millionaires in the making: The Rodrigueses

posted by Jonathan Tse

Only 27 years old, prodigious savers Gina and John Rodrigues are determined to retire with a million-dollar nest egg by the time they turn 40. Here's the odd part: They just might make it.

(Money Magazine) -- John and Gina Rodrigues have always been good with numbers. John is a software engineer who manages a team at Microsoft, and Gina spent years processing mortgages at Wells Fargo and Countrywide Home Loans. But the numbers they are especially good at are the kind with dollar signs in front of them.

At age 27, John and Gina already earn a combined $174,000 a year, save half of what they make and have built a formidable portfolio of $380,000 in stocks, mutual funds and cash. Their goal: to become millionaires and retire by the time they turn 40, just 13 years from now.

To make that dream a reality, they have become black-belt practitioners of an art rarely practiced in America these days: While others with their earning power might indulge in fancy dinners, luxury vacations and designer wardrobes, the Rodrigueses live like young couples did before the era of easy credit. They rent the house where John grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area for a mere $650 a month; rarely travel; split an entrée on the rare occasions they eat out; and spend almost nothing on clothes (John wears free Microsoft T-shirts, while Gina gets hand-me-downs from her sister).

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Gulf Between Rich And Poor Seniors Could Widen

by Ashlea Ebeling
posted by Jameel Murray

The current downturn will likely sharpen the financial gulf between the most affluent, best-educated retirees and the poorest ones. That, at least, is the conclusion suggested by new data from the Social Security Administration and a new study by Phillip Levine, chair of the Department of Economics at Wellesley College.

For all their bellyaching about declines in the value of their 401(k)s, the best-educated older workers, whose skills are most in demand, usually have a way to make up for their losses: work longer. The less educated, particularly during a recession, often do not have that luxury and end up forced into an early retirement.

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During Retirement, You Can’t Afford to Coast

Posted by Alma Zhumagulova
Published: October 10, 2009

FOR those of us who, thanks to the market’s recent climb, are now feeling slightly better when we look at our retirement accounts, Daniel R. Solin offers this splash of cold water in the face:
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“How you invest during retirement is as critical as how you invest in preparing for retirement.”

And he contends in “The Smartest Retirement Book You’ll Ever Read” (Perigee, $21.95) that we are not prepared for that second phase of our investing lives.

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How to have you dream retirement come true!

By Alma Zhumagulova

In this current situation almost everyone is worse-off: recent graduates, who can’t find job, middle-aged people being laid-off, even the older generation that cannot leave their jobs and retire as planned.
In order to learn from the older generation’s mistakes, you should start saving for retirement as early as you can and save regularly. The dollar that you did not save in your 20s becomes $8 you have to save if you start saving in 50s. When you are just starting to acquire the basic fixed assets such as home, car, or are paying of student loans, it is fine to save only 3% of income, but as time goes on you should progressively increase the share of income you are putting aside to about 10-12% which is the optimal desirable amount.
If, however, you procrastinate saving early, it is not too late to start saving 15 years before your retirement. At this moment you should establish a financial plan for saving and retiring, gradually get rid of any debts, and try to pay off your mortgage. According to CNNMoney, one should aim for 80% of their income before taxes for heir retirement income to maintain the same level of life. Everyone is unique and everyone has their own “dream” retirement vision, so adjust your savings not only according to your income but also to your desired lifestyle after retirement. Always have a cushion, i.e. save more than average for your income level, just to be on the safe side.
When you are very close to your retirement, try to use up your benefits provided by your employer and take the vacation days you haven’t taken either as cash or a nice break. Decide on how you will withdraw your savings, sign up for Social Security and Medicare and then start enjoying your retirement.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

It is not late to start your retirement planning

posted by Shawn Gao

When people are fifty or more years old, they are wondering whether they start their retirement saving too late.
One recent research by HSBC shows that only 13 percent of people around the world have already prepared for their retirement saving, and another 43 percent of people have undertaken some planning without clear mind of how much income they have from the plans.
Depending on the current situations, elder people have to deposit more than teenagers and adults. Since elder people have already passed their golden years of working, they need to consider more about their saving plans.
However, during the downturn economy years, financial advisors offer some special retirement plans for those elder people who didn't start their retirement savings early. It is fair that elder people need to expand their working years with enough saving s for another 15 years. Financial advisors suggest that elder people could be in self- employment or part- time in order to increase their income and expand working years. To build enough wealth to support their rest of lives need to set more time and meaningful amount of money.