Monday, March 30, 2015

10 Tips to Get Mentally Ready to Retire

When Marty Stroud retired at 65, his retirement savings were not his biggest issue. In fact, he had enough to live comfortably. Marty’s problem was finding a new routine after having spent decades in an all-consuming 9-to-5 job. "I lost purpose. Gardening may have saved my life”, he recalls of his first months of retirement.

Stroud is not alone. According to an Ameriprise Financial survey of retired baby boomers, some common concerns among retirees include:

  • Missing out on daily social interaction with colleagues (37%)
  • Getting used to new routines (32%)
  • Finding ways to give meaning and purpose to their days (22%)

Many retirees know that the change from a full-time job to a life with less structure and purpose can be challenging, especially emotionally.



You’ve celebrated every other milestone in your life – new home, new baby, birthdays, weddings and so on. Why not celebrate the milestone called "retirement"? It’s an achievement, especially if you’ve saved enough to live comfortably. You’ve earned it! Get great retirement party ideas on Pinterest.


Gone are the days of waking up early, sitting in traffic and drinking bad cafeteria coffee. You’re now free to lounge in your pajamas and take your time with errands. You can finally focus on doing what you love, when you want to. 

Just remember that at some point, you may start to miss the structure, purpose and community a job provides. Our advice? Create a schedule sooner than later and try to get out of the house as much as possible.


Do you want to be 18 again? Probably not. With age comes wisdom, self-realization and satisfaction. Enjoy your age at every age. Check out the Advanced Style blog for inspiration and proof "from the wise and silver-haired set that personal style advances with age".


Look forward to exercising – now you have the time! You have the flexibility to join classes and activities in the middle of the day when most people are at work. If you prefer walking, hiking or biking, get a friend to join you. A workout partner will help you stick to a schedule and make exercise a lot more enjoyable.


Learn something new, it will keep your mind sharp and add some structure to your day. Check out the City College in your town or Google "adult education" for free or affordable classes near you. There are also lots of online puzzles and games to keep your brain working.


Retired or not, this is the #1 wish for most people. Who doesn’t want to spend more time with the people they love? You don’t have to be anywhere between 9am and 5pm on the weekdays, so make a trip to see your children and grandchildren. If you want to be even more involved, you can move closer to family and volunteer your time for babysitting duties.


Share your life with a dog in exchange for unconditional, tail-wagging love. Besides the emotional benefits, your canine friend will need regular walks that will keep you in good shape. Research shows that dog-owners also need fewer doctor visits, have lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and a lower risk of heart attack compared to those who don’t.


Just because you’ve stopped working, it doesn’t mean you have to stop planning. With recent advancements in medicine, people are living well into their 90s. Set both personal and professional goals for yourself. Always wanted to run a marathon? Never visited the Grand Canyon? It’s never too late to get started. It’s also important to continue planning and adjusting your finances as you go.


What do you want to leave for your family, friends and the world? Research shows the happiest people are those who help others. This may be the time to think about giving back to your community. Leave a positive legacy by giving the gift of your time, knowledge, wisdom or money to local schools, community centers or charitable organizations that are close to your heart.


You’ve probably been anxious about retirement your entire adult life. Now that you’re there, stop worrying. Live for the moment and enjoy being the master of your own schedule.

In Stroud’s case, learning new things helped his transition into a new life. His daily ritual now includes making breakfast for the family and practicing yoga. "My time is filled with activities that inspire me and keep me healthy. I volunteer, paint, exercise and cook regularly," he gushes. “I love my new life!”

Even if retirement seems a long way off, you can start on some of these ideas to prepare for an easier transition. When it’s time to retire, embrace your newfound freedom and make the most of it. For more ideas and tips on how to make the most out of your retirement, emotionally and financially, visit

1 Ameriprise Study: First Wave of Baby Boomers Say Health and Emotional Preparation are Keys to a Successful Retirement:

Author: Lidia Shong from aboutLife

Friday, March 27, 2015

401K Tips and How to Stay on Top of Your Retirement

When it comes to saving for retirement, a mix of investment options is integral to your future success. A 2013 report by the American Benefits Institute states that about 94% of employers offer a 401(k) retirement plan to their employees, yet many employees aren't sure how to get the most out of their plan. Here are some tips for maximizing the rewards of your 401(k).

Take the Entire Match

Plenty of employers offer a full or partial match of your contributions. For example, your company may match 100% of the first three percent and will match at 50% thereafter up to seven percent. Read your plan's details to make sure you're getting all the matching you can. Talk to your employer if they might be able to match more if you have a special circumstance like retiring early. It's free money, so don't leave it on the table and take advantage of everything offered.

Consider Your Tax Withholding

If finding the money to bump up your 401(k) contributions is proving to be difficult, take a look at your take withholding. If you aren't claiming enough dependents, you will receive a larger tax return in the spring. That money could be squirreled away in your 401(k) over the course of the year. Review your W-4 form with your HR department, and file a new one if you are claiming zero or not claiming all your dependents. Find other ways to get more for your money by talking to a professional tax accountant or even your credit card merchant account for bad credit and how you might improve it. This way you can really improve your profile and secure future finances more easily. 

Be Cautious of Age-Related Fund Distributions

Some 401(k) plans offer a target-date fund distribution. On its face, this can be a great idea. Simply input how many years left until you retire and the plan will do your allocations for you. However, this can be a bad idea. If you are young, age-related distribution can expose you to far more financial risk than you might be comfortable with. On the flip side, older workers may have far too conservative choices implemented for them. Look at your entire retirement portfolio to determine your comfort with risk. If you have a paid-off home, an investment in a credit card processor of bad credit, and plenty of cash in your IRA, you may feel fine with accepting some risk in your 401(k) to maximize gains. If your other assets are small, you may not want to take risks. Think this through and allocate your funds accordingly.

Reduce Debt and Spending

If you’re starting late on your savings for retirement make an effort to reduce any debts you may have and cut back on unnecessary spending. This might mean getting rid of the cable, going to free community events instead of the movies, and only eating out once a month. Make up a budget and make sure you have a spending limit for things like gifts and entertainment. If you have debts you need paid off before retirement make sure you work on those first and that a good chunk of your paychecks go to getting the balance down on each one.

A well-funded and smartly allocated 401(k) plan can be a great way to save for retirement. However, it should be just one piece of your overall investment portfolio. Keeping these tips in mind will help you get the most out of your 401(k) and give you the relaxing retirement you’ve always dreamed of.

Monday, March 23, 2015

5 Ways Veterans Can Optimize Their Personal Finances

Becoming a veteran proves that you've served your country. It puts you in a class of your own, but it does bring a few unique challenges with it as many of our veterans today become very poor and homeless due to a variety of circumstances.

Of those challenges, one of the most problematic tends to be personal finance. Obtaining loans, keeping your credit straight, and finding the right job to build a financially secure future are just a few of the challenges you might face.

Let's examine five ways you can optimize your personal finances as a veteran to ensure that you and your family both have bright futures.

1. Seek the Right Job

Hopping from active duty to civilian life can be a drastic change, though the largest difference that most veterans struggle with is acquiring the right job.

To acquire it, there are a few things you can do. Always present your leadership abilities and any technical skills you might have learned while on active duty. Join one of the many networks maintained by veterans to help other veterans acquire jobs and education.

Never settle for a job that's less than what you think you can handle. You're valuable, so never sell yourself or your skills short.

2. Reduce Your Debt

You may have some debt from before you entered the military. Other debts may have accrued while you were on active duty. You may even have taken out a few personal loans to help you get on your feet after returning to civilian life.

The point is that you should begin reducing your debt as soon as possible. Work with your creditors and they'll work with you. This will help you become financially viable in the long run. You might need consider working with a financial consultant to help resolve some of your outstanding debts.

3. Utilize VA Loans

Veterans have access to special VA loans. These typically have lower interest rates than traditional loans, which is why you should always seek to utilize them.

If you're new to VA loans or have questions about them, then utilizing an expert website like Low VA Rates is something you should try. They have 10 years of experience working with veterans seeking to make quality financial investments in real estate.

4. Start Saving for Tomorrow

Bonds, stocks and other methods of financial investment require you to spend some money today for significantly larger returns tomorrow. That's why investing a little at a time now will eventually pay off.

You may not be an expert in finances, but you can make use of stock brokers and mutual funds to help make your future secure when it comes to finances.

5. Save Every Penny

Frugality is the one thing that separates a person whom worries not about money from one whom barely has enough to pay the bills. That's why every penny maters when it comes to making a financially secure future.

The extra pennies you save by choosing to dine at home, opting for store brands over name brands, and buying in bulk can be used to invest in other things. These financial vehicles will pay off in the future, which greatly optimizes your personal finances at a future date.

Making the Most of Your Personal Finances as a Veteran

You may have limited funds now, but stretching them as far as you can while investing in the future will ultimately pay off.

Given the number of options available to you as a veteran, such as low-interest loans for a home and for college education, you need only take advantage of them to optimize your personal finances.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

7 Savvy Ways to Invest Your Inheritance

Your rich uncle Edward recently passed away and left you a portion of his extended fortune. Wanting to get the money into your hands quickly, you went online and found websites like, helping you to cut through all the red tape and lengthy wait. 

Now that you have your inheritance, you start thinking it might be smart to invest the money in a worthy endeavor or two. Not overly familiar with how to invest, you thought it would be a good idea to research some investment options. Here are a few ideas to get you started thinking in the right direction.

The Stock Market

Perhaps one of the most common ways to invest money is to sink it into the stock market. Although the stock market has a tendency to rise and fall with the economic trends, a savvy student of business trends can use this to their advantage to make a profit. Watching the market go through the paces is key to making sure you are buying low and selling high to reap a good return on your investment.

The Foreign Exchange Market

Another way investors earn a profit, from the comfort of their own home, is by investing in the Foreign Exchange market. The idea is to pit one currency against another. As one currency goes up, the other inversely goes down. Investing in the right direction, by studying currency exchange rates, can lead to a rapid increase in profits. This market is also very news dependent, so a savvy currency trader must keep on top of major economic events. Major events typically indicate whether there will be a spike or a trough in a particular country's currency.

Binary Options

The binary market is another market that operates similar to the Foreign Exchange market. The difference is that in binary trading, you are simply picking the direction the market will move. If you predict that the market will go up, then you play up. It is really that simple. The catch is that once you are in, you will not be able to opt out of the trade if it turns against you for the duration of the trade. For this reason, a person really needs to study charts to be sure they have a good idea which direction a particular trading pair is heading. Playing binaries is a great way to invest to become better at the Foreign Exchange market, which provides a bit more trading flexibility.

Invest in Yourself

While not an “investment” in the traditional sense, investing in college courses can lead to a better paying job and ultimately greater job satisfaction. Not sure what career path you’d like to pursue?

There are a number of free tools on the internet which will aid you in your decisions. One great resource is This valuable resource will help you find a career that meets your unique interests and talents.


One prevailing train of thought is that you’ll need 70% of your pre-retirement yearly salary to live comfortably. But if you plan to construct a new home, or jet set around the globe, you may actually need closer to 100% of your annual income. 

"Not overly familiar with how to invest, you thought it would be a good idea to research some investment options."

The key to effective retirement planning is to be honest with yourself about the kind of the kind of lifestyle you plan on living during your retirement and determining how much it will cost. Investing a portion of your inheritance in your retirement may not seem particularly exciting, but it will ensure your golden years are lived in a comfortable fashion.

Collectible Toys

It may not be obvious at first glance, but that collection of He-Man action figures your mom sold in your last garage sale was worth a mint. In fact, many hard to find toys are worth money decades after the fact. Collectible toys increase in value because they become rarer over time. This makes collectible toys a fantastic asset class for savvy investors. In many cases, toy collectors well outperform high end 401k retirement plans many times over. If you have an eye for collectible toys, this might be a great way to reap a lucrative return on your investment capital.

Fine Art

Rich investors know that fine art, such as priceless paintings, are another great investment vehicle for the savvy investor. Sure, you may not have millions to sink in a famous classic painting, but there are many not so well known painters who fetch good returns on their paintings as well. As with any market, where collecting is involved, the idea is to take the time to do your homework. Learning to distinguish between the real artistic pieces and the nonsense is what investing is all about.

With a little forward thinking, a savvy investor will be able to turn a generous inheritance into a path towards meaningful profits.

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