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What to Do if You Haven’t Saved for Retirement

What to Do if You Haven’t Saved for Retirement
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BY KITT WALSH

What if you are one of us over-50 folks who haven’t saved for retirement? Maybe you flunked the school of hard knocks and bad health, bad circumstances, bad choices or bad investments got the better of you. What are you supposed to do? Scope out a park bench for your golden years? No, say the experts. There is still hope. Here are some suggestions for saving for retirement after 50:

Make an appointment with the moneyman (or woman): Whether you’ve ever met with a financial planner or not, now is the moment. Before you brave the haughty looks and negative attitude of some money managers, (who will make you feel even more like a social leper for coming to see them hat-in-hand), do a little research online first and ask around for someone who will earnestly try to help you out of your tight situation. Ask people your own age for a good word-of-mouth recommendation. Bear in mind, many such advisors are interested in selling investments and increasing portfolios to younger clients. People our age should be concentrating on putting only 50 percent of our money into stocks for growth and the other 50 into solid, safer options than the roller coaster that is the stock market. Many financial advisors will try to pressure you to go for more risk than you should. It is how they make their money.

Aim for a target: You’ll never get anywhere unless you know where you are going. Set up a series of goals, bearing in mind that folks our age have to replace at least 55 percent of the income we made while working with Social Security, pension and personal savings. Since pensions may be a thing of the past for many of us, that means knowing exactly what we will be getting from Social Security (go online and register for an account at www.ssa.gov to get shown exact dollar amounts for each age you might consider retiring) and sock as much away in 401Ks and IRA’s and any other type of savings account we can. (If you don’t have a savings account, get one right away and use it.)

Figure out how much you’ll need: It is a myth that retirement is cheaper than life while we are working. Actually, the experts say, we need to be ready to live on 45% less cash than what we lived on while we were working and costs will keep going up. Check out the retirement planning tools on AARP to help with your calculations.

About those savings accounts: You can put more money into tax-sheltered accounts like that IRA and 401K because you aren’t a spring chicken. Since you are over 50, you can stash $24,500 in a 401K and 5,500 in an IRA. Piling the money up as fast as you can while you are still working is the ticket.

Make more money: Duh, right? But if you can come up with a part-time job at night or on weekends to help fill the coffers, now is the time. How about teaching something you’ve worked at for a lifetime as a course at the community college? Or tutoring kids on the weekends? Becoming an overnight babysitter for young parents who simply must get away with their spouse is not only great fun, but an easy way to earn a little extra scratch. Think dog walker, seamstress, even telemarketer (make sure you avoid scams) and consider this “pin money” as just extra bucks to throw in a savings account.

Don’t retire yet: If you had visions of playing golf or napping all day, sorry. Look at it that you had your fun when you were younger and now you (and that means 6 our of 10 of us, by the way) have to keep working. If you can hang on to your job, do so and sock as much money away as possible. If you have already retired, go back to work—even if it is as a consultant to or in a lesser position at your old company. Or, if you are having trouble getting hired because you are over 50 (and you will), consider starting your own company or working for yourself in some capacity. You’ll very probably work harder for yourself than you ever worked for any other boss. Charge fairly (resist being arrogant just because you have lifetime of experience in the field), do a good job and your reputation will grow, along with your next egg.

Kitt Walsh owns a web content company, Behind Blogs (http://www.behindblogs.com), is a regular contributor to CNN Money, a public speaker on Social Media, a book editor and ghostwriter, and freelances as a feature writer, editor and marketing consultant for magazines, newspapers and private clients around the world.

 

 

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