Planning for retirement is a challenge for everyone. Again, the earlier you begin, the longer you will have to accumulate funds and capitalize on compound interest. A plan designed to meet specific retirement goals may be separate from or part of the investment building block.
Some people have given a great deal of thought to retirement, but others have not. Less than half (42%) of working Americans have made a retirement savings calculation, according to the 2006 Retirement Confidence Survey, and 70% have begun to save for retirement. Unfortunately, this means that 30% of workers have not yet begun saving. Most experts believe that regular, systematic savings is a habit that is best established early and maintained, not only throughout the working years, but into the early stages of retirement since people are living much longer. Today, many people spend as many years in retirement as they spent in the workforce.
Financial experts have long described sources of retirement income as the three-legged stool: Social Security, company pension, and personal savings. Now with the growing concern over the future of Social Security, the reduction in benefits offered by employers, and the low personal savings rate, many see the three legs of the retirement income stool becoming shaky. Many say that the stool may need a fourth leg—paid work after retirement.
Now that the Social Security Administration has phased in automatic mailing of Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statements to all wage earners, check yours for accuracy. It contains information that provides an excellent basis for retirement planning. Contact the Social Security Administration (Call 1-800-772-1213 or visit the Social Security Online Web Site www.socialsecurity.gov) to obtain a benefit request form.
Another source of retirement information is your employer’s personnel department which may have general tips on retirement as well as specific information about investments available in your pension plan. Many online sites provide information about retirement planning (See American Savings Education Council www.asec.org).
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