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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money
Retirement Planning
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Celebrate April: Taxes, Money Smart Week, Financial Literacy Month!

With the hint of spring in our gardens, I feel like we're moving out of the slow-moving pace of winter into the season of festivals, events and outdoor activities. On top of all these activities, April is National Financial Literacy Month, taxes are due, and Money Smart Week returns to our communities during the last week! As you can imagine, my calendar is filling up – maybe you'd like to add...

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My Decision to Retire - Revisited

Four years ago, I announced my retirement here on the blog . I talked about the decision-making process that I went through, and the kinds of financial information that I used. (If you're reading this, you probably know that I was lucky enough to return to Extension on a part time basis and continue writing for the blog.) Four years into my so-called...

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Chatting about Financial Wellness

Do you hear the buzz? The conversation is getting louder. What started a few years ago as a murmur among a few is turning into excited dialogue and debate! I'm at the National Summit on Collegiate Financial Wellness and its energizing. Today's conversations centered on financial literacy...

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How Much Will You Spend In Retirement? It’s a Tricky Question.

Say you spent $50,000 in your first year of retirement. How much would you expect to spend in Year 2? Year 3? If you're like most people, you said that you'll probably spend a little more each year, simply because of inflation. You would be in good company, because most estimates of how long our money will last in retirement make the same assumption. But it may be wrong. And if it is wr...

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ASW: Facing Retirement

If you haven't guessed it by now, I am a Millennial. The idea of being 65+ is a concept that I can't completely grasp yet. I do worry about retirement and wonder if I am saving enough for my future self. Retirement will come, even if you say you won't "retire" one day you may need a nest egg! No matter what age you are, it's important to save for retirement. In one of my graduate classe...

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Transitions: What Happens to a 401(k) Loan When You Leave Your Job?

Did you borrow money from your 401(k) that you haven't paid back yet? You're not alone. According to a study by Aon Hewitt, one in every four participants in these plans has a loan. What happens to that loan when you leave your job? Whether you retire, are laid off, or move to another company, the o...

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Transitions: Strategies for your 401(k)

Deciding what to do with your 401(k) when you leave your job could be one of your biggest financial decisions. Same goes if you have a 403(b), 457, SEP or SIMPLE plan. I'm hoping you already know that, unless you absolutely can't put food on the table without it, you do NOT want to cash out your 401(k) or any other retirement plan when you leave your job. You got that, right? An...

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Transitions: How does leaving a job affect your income taxes?

Most of us expect our income taxes to take care of themselves, except for filing that pesky return: money gets withheld over the course of the year, and then we hope to get some of that back as a refund. When you leave a job, income taxes can get a bit more complicated. If you're retiring or being laid off, the last thing you need is an unexpected tax bill or penalty. On the other hand,...

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If you haven’t yet filed for Social Security, you may need to change your plans.

Were you planning to file-and-suspend or file a restricted application when you claim Social Security benefits? Your plans could be derailed by the new Social Security rules that were signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. If you aren't really familiar with Social Security rules and benefits, you might want to start with a general o...

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Plan Well Retire Well Wins National Award

I'd like to take a minute to toot our own horn. The writing team behind the Plan Well Retire Well blog just won two awards for Internet Education Communications from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) at their annual conference held November 2-5, 2015 in White Sulfur Springs WV. We received first-place in the Central regi...

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myRA -- Easy to Start Saving!

To save money in most retirement saving plans, you often need a minimum already saved to get started. Not the my RA offered my the US government. I think the low amount needed to start saving and the NO FEES are the best parts of the my RA, and making checking out this saving option worthwhile! Unfortunately, many people don't have access to an employer's retirement plan...

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Dear Young Friend: IRAs Offer Tax Breaks on Your Long Term Money

Dear Karen, You mentioned that putting my long term savings into an IRA could save me some money on income taxes. How would that work? Your Young Friend ________________ Dear Young Friend,...

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Dear Young Friend: Three Buckets for Your Money

I have been talking with a young friend about a lot of different financial topics over the past couple of months. I realized that the challenges my young friend faces are the same things that almost all young adults deal with. Over the next few months, I'll be sharing some of our conversations. Maybe you're wrestling with some of the same questions. Or, like me, maybe you have a young frien...

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401(k) Loans: Whose Advice Should You Trust?

I was stunned this week when I read a research article contending that taking a loan from your 401(k) is preferable to most other kinds of loans. That flies in the face of what we've all been told over the years. Two days later, I received my November issue of Consumer Reports Money Adviser, which had a sidebar titled Decision: Borrow from your 401(k)? And it began lik...

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Tax Uncertainty? Tax Diversification to the Rescue

Diversification is the first rule of investing. You knew that, right? But have you thought about tax diversification? Yep. Smart investing isn't just what you own, it's where you own it and how it gets taxed when you take it out. From a tax standpoint, you have three different types of accounts: Regular (taxable) accounts, like your checking and savings accounts and accounts with...

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What to do with your 401(k)? Consider costs, investments, and services

The decision of whether to leave money in your old employer's retirement plan, or to move it to your new employer plan or an IRA, doesn't always have an obvious answer. Last week , we looked at factors concerning your age and when you want to have access to your money – or be required to begin distributions. Today, we'll talk about comparing costs, investmen...

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What to do with your 401(k)? Think about when you want your money.

You retired. Or changed jobs – maybe several times. So did I. And at many of those jobs, we had a 401(k) or some other type of retirement plan. If your account held less than $5000, you may have been forced to make a quick decision about what to do with the money. Otherwise, you probably did what many of us do so well: procrastinate . Maybe now is a...

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Stress Test Your Financial Plans

When I faced a major life decision two years ago, looking at my financial situation was a big factor in the decision. I estimated what my future expenses would be, and compared those against my expected income. I did a net worth statement , which forced me to total up my assets and liabilities. I even guesstimate...

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Tropical Islands = Retirement Planning

While I was in my 30s and 40s, retirement planning meant planning travel to exotic places! Oh sure, I'd need money for food and other basics, but mostly I was saving money so that I could do LOTS of traveling. But now that I'm in my 50s I realize that retirement planning is a little more complex. As well as considering my future travel budget, I am now thinking more seriously about poss...

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Solutions for Investment Procrastination, Part 3

Target date retirement funds are the third tool that might help you get things done where investing is concerned. Like index mutual funds and automatic rebalancing that I wrote about previously, this is a tool that might simplify your investment decisions...

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How Do We Decide When to Start Our Social Security Benefits?

Deciding when to take your Social Security benefits requires understanding your choices and recognizing the emotions that go into the decision. Like many decisions about money, if we are not conscious of our feelings we may be overly influenced by them and not pay enough attention to the numbers. Suzanne Shu and John Payne's research study as described in...

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Save for Retirement Week: Let's Do It!

It's National Save for Retirement Week! And, this is a great time to start saving for or increase your retirement savings. Saving even small amounts NOW will add up over time. Here are some excellent strategies to get started: 1) Pay yourself. Think of savings as a bill to be paid. 2) Use payroll deductions. Have your employer deposit your savings directly from your paycheck int...

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Accumulating Actions: Saving for Retirement Early

During my college years I discovered it to be quite difficult to save for my retirement. As a financial planning student I knew it was something that I absolutely HAD to do. It was deep-rooted in my brain to save early, save often, and you'll have millions of dollars (no guarantees implied!) by the time you are ready to retire. Unfortunately life got in the way of all that, and I promi...

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Inheriting an IRA When You Lose a Loved One

If there was one thing that I thought I understood thoroughly about managing someone's affairs after death, it was IRAs. I've taught about the rules for taking distributions – including taking distributions as a beneficiary – for years. But I was surprised by a couple of things about father's IR...

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A Quick Financial Checklist

How are you doing financially? No, I'm not asking how you think you're doing, or how you feel about your financial situation. I'm asking about cold, hard facts: How are you doing? Let's talk about some ways to get a handle on this. Answer these questions to get a quick sense of whether you're in financial quicksand, or on more sold ground. 1 .Are you behind on any bil...

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