Add a little green to your golden years

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By Maryellen Garrison

The recent economic recession has many people nervous about whether they have planned or are planning well enough for retirement. If you’re worried about not having enough money to last through your golden years, you’re not alone. With life expectancies longer than ever, six out of 10 baby boomers fear outliving their retirement funds more than they fear dying.

While Social Security is one source of retirement income, it shouldn’t be your only one. Currently, Social Security replaces about 40 percent of the average wage earner’s income, with higher income earners receiving less of a percentage of their income. Despite your income level, you should plan to replace 70 to 90 percent of your pre-retirement income to live comfortably during retirement.

This may seem like a monumental task, but you can do several things to help build your retirement savings.

Track your current expenses, and determine whether they are fixed or flexible. Fixed expenses are usually monthly, non-negotiable expenses and include items such as rent, mortgage payments, utility costs and car payments. Flexible expenses are those over which you have more control and can include groceries, travel, eating out and entertainment expenses. Plan to track them for at least a month. Identifying where your money goes will help you develop a realistic budget that can help you either save for or stretch your retirement dollars.

Whether you’re planning for retirement or are already retired, you should consider ways to maximize your money. Depending on the amount of your assets, personal risk tolerance, retirement goals and anticipated length of retirement, you may consider a balanced financial portfolio that includes certificates of deposits, money market accounts, stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Before you invest, be sure that you are comfortable with the risk and terms of the investment. Many of the options that have the potential for the biggest returns can also result in some of the largest losses in principal. Remember if you are close to retirement or retired, it will be harder to recover from a significant loss of principal.

More information is available in the Cooperative Extension Service publication FCS5-548 Maximizing Your Dollars in Retirement. It is available online at tinyurl.com/m3n3ppj or through the Henry County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.


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