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Archive for April 2020

April 28, 2020

Simple Advice on Tapping Into Your Retirement Fund Early: Don’t

It’s no secret that the economy is currently in the midst of a slowdown. How serious is it? The old joke about the difference between a recession and a depression comes to mind: If your neighbor’s out of work, it’s a recession. If you’re out of work, it’s a depression.

Regardless of what you call the current economic situation, you may find yourself short of cash and looking around for a place where you can make up the shortfall. Then, a statement from your 401(k) or 403(b) plan arrives in the mail, and you think: hey, there’s tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars “just sitting there.” If I could just take a little out now…
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April 24, 2020

Gold as a Retirement Investment?

When people think of retirement investments, gold rarely crosses their minds. After all, gold doesn’t provide any income, and the whole purpose of saving for retirement is to replace the income shortfall when you’re not working any more.

To be sure, gold makes little sense for those who are already retired, and are seeking an investment that will generate income for day-to-day living. Future retirees, however, are less interested in current income than in growth and security of their retirement nest egg. For them, gold can be a part of a comprehensive retirement saving strategy.
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April 18, 2020

Is an “encore job” right for you?

If you’re a baby boomer nearing retirement age, and have been fortunate enough to be able to put aside a substantial nest egg, you may be in an “in between” place: ready, willing, and able to leave your job and try something else, but not ready to give up working entirely.

In the past, people in this position often did volunteer work, and that’s still a viable option. But more and more baby boomers are pursuing a different option: a new job that often involves public service, and usually doesn’t pay as well as one’s career job did, but that provides a deeper level of satisfaction. Marc Freedman, author of Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life, calls these occupations “encore jobs.” Richard Leider and David Shapiro go even further, and talk about “putting your whole self into the second half of life.”

A recent article at TwinCities.com gives several examples. You can find thousands more real-life stories of people who have created meaningful encore careers at encorecareers.org.

April 15, 2020

Future retirees beware: Wall Street is lobbying to get its hands on your pension money

The big Wall Street banking and investment firms—the same fine people who brought us the subprime credit meltdown and the mortgage crisis—are now lobbying lawmakers to allow them to buy up and manage your pension fund money.

According to a recent Business Week report, roughly $500 billion—that’s half a trillion dollars—is currently sitting in so-called “frozen” pension plans. These are corporate pension plans that are closed to new members. Because corporations are cutting pension plans, new pension funds become frozen every day, and the trend is expected to continue. Among well-known companies with frozen plans are Alcoa, HP, Verizon, and IBM.

Currently, many of these plans are underfunded due to many reasons, such as fluctuations in the stock market. When this happens, the corporations can be forced to make up the shortfall. Thus, it’s no surprise that many companies would love to get rid of the pension plans even though they’re full of valuable assets.

And it’s no surprise that big Wall Street firms would love to take them over. They could charge their typical fees of 1% to 2% annually to manage them. That equates to billions of dollars of your hard-earned cash that would be gobbled up.

But the danger isn’t limited to a few percent points per year. As Business Week further reports, if the moneymen get the way, some 44 million future retirees’ money could be put at risk
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April 11, 2020

When should you start taking Social Security benefits?

It’s a perennial question. When you reach age 62, you can apply for Social Security benefits, but they’ll be significantly reduced for life. Or, you can wait until you’re old enough for full benefits (a sliding scale between ages 65 and 67, depending on when you were born). Which is best?

The question isn’t easy to answer, since it depends, among other things, on the age of your future demise. If you die at age 64, you’ll get nothing if you wait. But if you last to age 100, you’ll suffer 35 years of reduced benefits for the sake of a few years of payments early on. Where’s the break-even point?

You can spend hours poring over Excel spreadsheets if you want. But according to The Center For Retirement Research at Boston College, there’s a way you can have your cake and eat it too
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