If you're eligible to receive a monthly pension when you retire, congratulations! You're one of the lucky ones. But that doesn't mean you don't have to protect yourself from what could be a gruesome retirement.
It's time for some tough love. After all, I want you to have a comfortable retirement doing all the things you've desired.
Maybe you plan to dine in fine restaurants, travel to the Galapagos Islands to see blue-footed boobies, take your grandchildren to Hershey, Pa., to eat chocolate to their hearts' content -- and then come home to your spiffy retirement community.
There's talk -- a lot of talk -- about the "R" word. That talk revolves around whether we're already in a recession, about to hit one, nearly halfway through one already, and how deep, wide, mild, severe, mentholated, or decaffeinated this particular one is and/or will be.
We each have a vision of what we want from our retirement years. Mine involves a lot of travel, maybe on my own by sailboat or small plane, but always starting out from a friendly community of caring neighbors who swap stories over coffee, share fun projects, and help each other out when needed.
Rising health-care and food costs and a slowing economy have hit many Americans in their debit cards -- and their retirement plans. The Employee Benefit Research Institute's annual survey reports that just 18% of workers and 29% of retirees are "very confident" they'll have the resources for a comfortable retirement -- the lowest levels in seven years.
When I think about my retirement, I imagine a series of happy images: summer sun glinting on the water, traveling in my own sailboat or small airplane to faraway places I can explore leisurely, and lots of happy moments shared with friends and family.
Starting to put money aside toward retirement early in your life helps you build a big retirement nest egg. But if you've waited until your 50s to start thinking about saving for retirement, you're not doomed to a miserable retirement. By taking advantage of some special provisions that only apply to older workers, you can turbocharge your retirement savings when you need it most.
Knowing where you stand with your retirement savings challenges even the best-prepared investors. After all, when you add modest amounts to your retirement accounts each month, market fluctuations can easily wipe out several months' worth of contributions.
Pick a number between 1 and 3,000,000. Any number. Got one?
That pretty much sums up the method that a startling number of people use to "plan" for retirement. Close to half of workers guess at how much money they will need, according to the 2008 Retirement Confidence Survey.
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