Doing the math for your future (AKA retirement)

It’s an easy concept to grasp…if you expect to be able to retire, you’ll have to have enough money to support your lifestyle without working. Simple, right? But it can be intimidating to try to project just how much monthly income you’ll need.

There are so many variables to consider, and so many factors are difficult to project. Many forces that impact retirement planning are beyond anyone’s control. And depending on your age, the landscape for retirement may be totally different by the time you get there.

For instance, Social Security, which has been a bulwark for so many in the U.S., may not survive to help support future generations in their golden years. For many people, even today, Social Security is only a part of the strategy for retirement.

Then there’s the huge and unknowable factor of personal health. Add in the cost of healthcare insurance premiums, deductibles, the shrinking government benefits for seniors, and planning for retirement begins to feel overwhelming.

Add in factors like inflation, government regulations affecting retirement, personal career success…it’s all difficult to forecast, plan for, hedge against.

The secret weapon you have on your side, if you’re starting early? Time.

A lot of people miss out on the benefit of planning early and using the power of compound interest to help them make a lot out of a little. Why? Because we always think we have more time than we really do. When you’re in your 20s, even 30s or 40s, retirement looks like a vague and distant date on the calendar…so far away it’s something to think about another day, when you have time to get serious about it.

The sad thing is that for many people, that day doesn’t really come…I mean the day they get serious and focused. Oh, some people put a little bit toward the future here and there. But statistics say a majority of Americans largely ignore saving or planning for retirement…almost like they don’t know it’s coming.

If you’re struggling to get a handle on planning for retirement, there are so many tools available to get started. You can find free retirement calculators online, there are books and magazines that focus on retirement strategies and planning, for those looking toward that time, and for individuals already retired. There’s help for almost every situation, whether you started your retirement planning journey early, or are late to the party. Do yourself a favor and don’t delay another day. Even getting a late start toward planning for your future is better than doing nothing.

Here’s a link to begin: The 4% rule.

There’s no perfect vehicle or formula for retirement planning. You’ll have to consider your particular needs and opportunities as you review options for creating a retirement strategy. Variables range from where you choose to live, if you plan to travel, pensions or benefits from multiple careers, age you’ll fully retire, responsibility for dependents…oh, the list is long, and unique for each of us.

The important thing is to begin. Take a look at where you are, where you hope to be by retirement age, and then do the math to see how you can get there. Starting the conversation is the first step, and defining your hopes and expectations is next. One you’ve done that work, you can begin to put real numbers to your goals.

If you’re like a lot of people, you’ll probably want professional guidance to understand the various financial vehicles for retirement planning and strategies you should consider. Ask friends or co-workers about their financial advisors, get recommendations, do your research.

And then get started. Hey, tomorrow is Saturday…wouldn’t that be a great time to dive into all of this?

Believe me, it’s coming faster than you think! Spend some time and money now to be sure you’ll be prepared!

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