Tag Archives: Monthly Expenses

Sketch Out a Winning Retirement Gameplan

Sketch Out a Winning Retirement Gameplan

After years of toiling away in the office, you’ve finally decided to enter into your glorious retirement years. You’re probably dreaming of relaxing days, visits with the grandkids, plenty of travel and lots of free time to explore new hobbies. Not so fast—before you clock out for the last time and bid farewell to your co-workers, you’ll need to sketch out a winning retirement gameplan.

As with every other major life change, retirement takes plenty of preparation. Not only do you need to figure out how you’re going to pay the bills—you’ll also want to prepare for the emotional and mental challenges many retirees face after leaving the workforce. Once you’re retired and have more free time, you may find yourself bored, isolated and even depressed.

Here are a few steps you should take to ensure your exit from the working world and entry into retirement is a smooth transition:

· Do your boss a favor: You may be tempted to take off running from the office as soon as you announce your retirement. However, it would be beneficial to both you and your employer if you stick around and help your boss find a suitable replacement. You may even offer to help train your successor. Not only will your boss be forever grateful, but this will help ease your transition into retirement.

· Draw up a retirement budget: Before you jump into retirement, you’ll want to make sure you have enough income to last throughout your lifetime. Sit down and figure out just how much money you’ll need each month for the next 40 years in order to maintain your current lifestyle. If you don’t think you have enough money in your retirement funds to cover these monthly expenses, you may want to rethink your plans. You might consider delaying retirement, exploring an “encore” career or picking up a part-time job.

· Consider health care expenses: Even if your employer offers a retirement health plan, you should set aside plenty of funds to cover the cost of health insurance. A company can take away these retirement health benefits at any time, so you’ll want to make sure you’re covered from every angle.

· Sign up for government aid ahead of time: Sometimes, it can take 90 days or longer for Social Security benefits or Medicare to kick in for eligible retirees. If you’re 65 or older, approaching retirement and want to start receiving benefits as soon as you stop working, you should sign up for benefits a few months before your official retirement. Visit ssa.gov or call 800-772-1213 to register.

· Plan now for retirement hobbies: Boredom is one of the biggest challenges many retirees face. But if you plan ahead to stay active, you’ll be much more likely to enjoy a full, rewarding retirement. Think about some new hobbies you’d like to pursue, sign up for volunteer work, register for some interesting classes or even consider a part-time job. You may also want to find out if your company offers an “alumni group” you could join. Many businesses arrange these groups as a way for retirees to stay in touch with other former colleagues. As long as you continue to take part in meaningful activities and feel like you have a purpose to your life, your retirement will be much more fulfilling and enjoyable.

More Bang for Your Buck: Eight Money-Saving Tips

More Bang for Your Buck:  Eight Money-Saving Tips

Less work and more money? This idealistic mantra may sound like an unattainable dream, but may in fact be closer than you think. You can increase your money supply without increasing your hours just by avoiding excessive spending in the first place. Most people refer to this plan as a budget, or spending plan.

Below are a few ideas to get the most out of your money:

*Create a spending plan. Some people have negative associations with the word “budget.” A budget does not necessarily mean you are going to do without. Create a plan including all of your monthly expenses. Once you start planning your spending, you may find you are spending more wisely.

*Never forget to pay yourself first. Savings should always be at the top of your spending plan. If you wait until the end of the month to put money away, you may find there is little left to invest. As a general rule, always save 10% of your salary before spending the rest.

*Keep good records. If you record your expenditures for a month, including small items like coffee and snacks, you may be surprised to find how quickly little purchases add up. At the end of the month, assess your spending pattern accordingly; once you see where your money goes, you might make better choices regarding your spending.

*Live within your means. Assess each purchase thoroughly by asking if you really need to buy. When contemplating a larger purchase, a good strategy to remember is to walk away from the item or leave the store, and think about the purchase. Sometimes the pressure of the environment can force you to buy something you really don’t need or want. Walking away gives you the opportunity to think clearly, and if you truly want the item you can return to the store.

*Shop for value. It always pays to compare prices. You may even want to consider buying items you use regularly in bulk. Watch for sales and consider buying used cars or appliances, since the depreciation of the first one to two years can save you plenty of money.

*Cut back on debt. Think of a credit card as a commitment to pay for the item out of money you have yet to earn. Never owe more than you can pay off in one or two paychecks. Finance charges can deprive you of more of your hard-earned money, which is just like throwing it away. If you can’t afford it, you shouldn’t buy it.

*Choose to eat in. Dining out is very expensive; Drinks and desserts at a restaurant are costly items, and the tip adds 15-20% more to your food costs. Save dining out for special occasions, rather than on days when you don’t feel like cooking. By planning meals in advance and shopping from that plan, you will never have “nothing to eat.” There are also excellent online recipe guides that list several menus from the same ingredients, so you won’t waste any groceries.

*Reduce housing costs. This fixed expense can sometimes be unnecessary. If you can, try downsizing to a smaller house or apartment. If you rent and plan on staying in the area for a while, consider buying a place. Buying a house is an investment, while renting is usually a waste of money.