None of us wants to think about our future; we want to live for the here and now. However, the here and now is what we need to think about because we’ll find the future upon us quicker than we were expecting it to be. Suddenly we might find ourselves not having enough money to live on, let alone in comfort, or at least in the manner we were living when we were earning our money.


by Pedro Figueiredo

There was a report on our local news stating that most people who retire and had set up a 401K savings plan don’t have close to enough money to live the life they’re used to living. The average comes in around $149,000, which sounds like a lot of money until you think about just how long you might have to live off it.

If you lived another 20 years that’s only around $7,500 a year, if that. Sure, you’d have your social security money, but with the way our government keeps playing around with it how secure do you feel in trusting them?

How much money do you need for your future? For each person that’s a different answer. What you need to do it think about how you want to live your future. For instance, you might need less money if you’ve paid off all your debt, which includes your home, before you retire. If you decide to sell your home and live in an apartment, depending on how much you could sell your home for, that could help drastically.

It’s complicated trying to figure out how much money you might need because everyone has different needs and wants. What most of us don’t think about is how much we might need when it comes to paying some of our medical expenses. An article on The Motley Fool estimated that an average couple over age 65 might need upwards of $260,000 just for that purpose, and another $130,000 if either has to go into a long term care facility. That sounds pretty scary doesn’t it, especially when compared to that $149,000 mentioned above.

It’s too bad most of us don’t start a savings and investing plan 20, because we’d all be set by age 65. If any of you have kids around that age, share the linked article with them to help protect their future. For the rest of you, if you’ve got the nerve, check out this retirement savings calculator from Kiplinger to see where you might possibly stand.

If you want to live a simple life, you could probably get it done. If you were hoping to travel or help the grandkids with college, make changes to your house, keep buying nice clothes and the like, you’re going to need a bit more money… and you can’t trust your luck in winning the lottery.

Feeling Tipsy?
Lynn Friedman via Compfight

If you’re young enough, at least in your early 40’s, one of the best things to do is contact a financial planner to help you make long term decisions. I’ll caution you and let you know that many of them are going to try to talk you into getting insurance first, especially if you’re married, and that’s not be a bad thing. It will be another expense you’ll have to plan for, but at least your immediate family is taken care of if you pass away.

They will help you figure out how much money you need, as well as figure out your risk tolerance to investing. This is important because if you want a lot of money, your financial planner might have to risk your money on deals that will work one day and burn you on another day.

There are other things that are crucial to helping your financial status in your later years. You have to come to grips with the reality that it’s probably best to pay down current debt versus saving for the future. Sorry it’s a competition between the two but let’s look at it in a couple of different ways.

First, debt based on interest rates. Accruing credit card debt usually runs between 9% up to 29%, although the average rate is around 18%. If you only owe $500, that’s not a big deal. However, if you owe $3,000 or more, and you’re not paying more than what you owe on a monthly basis, you’re never going to pay that off, especially if you don’t stop spending.

Second, debt based on amount of your monthly payment. If you can get out of paying a monthly mortgage before you retire that’s anywhere from $500 to over $1,000 a month you can use for other things. Big hospital bills, loan amounts or even a large credit card amounts with great interest rates probably have large payments that will impact your monthly stash.

It’s going to be hard to rely on just your social security when you retire, but it’s the best place to start looking at any monthly income you’ll have coming to you. If you can eliminate most of your outstanding debt, you might be able to get by on $4,000 a month.

Anything less and you might be in trouble. Think about it this way. Even if you’re making enough to take care of your general expenses, things are going to happen where you’re going to need some extra cash. Car repairs, dental and physician expenses, broken glass, new shoes… these are things that are going to come along and you’re either going to have to address them or let things go… and the second part will lead to a horrible life experience.

Nothing says you have to retire at 65, and these days more people are working into their early 70’s. It might be a scary proposition but I tend to believe it’s always better to know where you might stand than to not know. The earlier you can start thinking about it, the easier it will be for you to start saving what you might need, or planning to do other things for your future.

If you’re married, be sure to have the financial conversation with your spouse because you’re in this together. Find ways now to relieve as much financial stress as possible. It’s never too late to get financial counseling advice, so do it sooner than later.

Always remember that you can’t run away from any problems, but especially financial issues. Challenge it head on and at least you’ll be prepared to do what you have to do to survive… and hopefully you’ll do so living pretty well.
 

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