The “Best-Cast Retirement Strategist” Part 1

Are you close to retirement? Or does retirement seem so far away, you can’t even envision it? Whatever your time frame, you probably do want to retire some day. A 2011 study from the Metlife Mature Market Institute contains a lot of interesting information about how retirees and pre-retirees create a financially successful retirement. We always hear about the challenges of achieving a secure retirement, but this survey asked respondents who felt that they were successful in their work towards a “best-case” retirement strategy how they did it. The survey found a common set of approaches to producing the best possible outcome. Not surprisingly, there’s some planning involved. According to the survey, a best-case strategist: Stops, sits down, and focuses on the future…and talks about it Has a sense of self-reliance Thinks about the future – all the way to the end Anticipates…or, expects the unexpected Designates a budget column, today, for a future self Sets and lives by personal financial rules Engages in the “What ifs?” Puts pencil to paper, or cursor to screen; Does the math – All of it Gathers information Seeks advice Gets the house in order – literally Starts as soon as possible Over several blog posts, I’ll discuss these actions and what you can do to incorporate them into your life, no matter where you are in your journey towards retirement. Stops, sits down, and focuses on the future… and talks about it I’ve started with this attribute because I’d like to offer this series as a conversation starter for you as you consider your own retirement readiness. I know we’re all busy,...

The U.S. Budget – What Will It Mean for Retirement Programs?

Earlier this week, I was fortunate to attend the “Retirement Income Summit” offered by Investment News. Sessions at the Summit included the expected topics: investments, taxes, client behavior, insurance, retirement strategies, etc. One of the sessions I found extremely informative was the Washington Insider’s View, presented by Jamey Delaplane of Davis & Harmon, a D.C. law firm I remember from my early actuarial career as very involved in helping insurers understand and implement tax strategies on behalf of the insurers they worked for and the clients served by those insurers. It’s hard to avoid talk about federal spending these days, and much of Jamey’s presentation revolved around the retirement implications of the upcoming federal budget discussions.  Jamey referenced a survey by Matthew Greenwald & Associates on behalf of the National Institute on Retirement Security.  That survey found that “nearly 80% of Americans believe leaders in Washington do not understand how hard it is to prepare for retirement in this economy. Some 83% say government should make it easier for employers to offer pensions, and 81% believe that Washington leaders need to give a higher priority to ensuring more Americans can have a secure retirement.” On the other hand, Jamey noted that with the current budget status, there are “no sacred cows”.  On the table are the mortgage interest deduction, reductions in the tax incentives to save for retirement and life insurance and annuity cash value accumulations, and of course Social Security and Medicare.  With respect to many of these tax benefits, he noted that many of the discussions focus on “upper income” Americans, with the possibility of phaseouts, additional taxes, and/or means testing. He described the upcoming debt ceiling vote as...