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Be Ready for that Unexpected Early Retirement: 8 tips

Five Things Daughters Need TO Know About Their Parents FinancesBy Rodney Brooks, USA TODAY 7:44 p.m. EDT September 24, 2014
Unexpected retirement can be a lot easier if you plan for the unexpected, financial advisers say.
That retirement you’re looking forward to in five years: Be prepared for it sooner than you expect.
Numerous surveys have shown that people think that they are going to retire later than it happens. The two big reasons: health issues and losing your job.
According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), 47% of American retirees in a 2013 survey retired before they planned, mostly because of health or disability.
Unplanned or unexpected early retirement can create havoc with your retirement plans. Some who had to retire early weren’t quite ready financially: Those five or 10 additional years of saving for retirement were no longer possible. Some may have had to take Social Security earlier than expected. And, as we all know, the earlier you take Social Security, the lower your monthly check.
“I have several clients and families who have gone through this,” says Greg Sullivan, with Sullivan, Bruyette, Speros & Blayney In McLean, Va. “What we are always doing is trying to keep our clients prepared for the unexpected.”

USA TODAY
Top retirement financial concern: Health care bills

Others are not prepared psychologically.
“Don’t leave your retirement to hopium,” says Kimberly Foss, founder and president of Empyrion Wealth Management in Roseville, Calif., and author of Wealthy by Design. “Hopium is a foolish hope. It allows people to ignore sometimes unexpected realities, such as unemployment. It keeps people from making a proper plan. If they do ignore it, it leads to financial ruin.”
Some advice on how to be ready in case unexpected early retirement happens to you:
• Do an assessment. Sullivan says you should look at cash flow, balance sheet, insurance and estate plans to get an idea of where you are today and the impact of earlier-than-expected retirement.
• Plan for the unexpected. “If you pre-rehearse those types of contingencies, you are far more likely to make good decisions in an emotional moment,” says Joe Sicchitano, head of wealth planning for SunTrust Bank. “Faced with unexpected retirement, your life is in turmoil. If you thought about it, you can make good decisions.”
It’s not that different from helping children who are afraid of monsters in the closet, Sicchitano says. “The best solution is turn the light on, and see how big he is, how scary he is.”
When you know your fears, you can react to them and plan for them, Sicchitano says. “Start with the question, ‘What are you afraid of?’ That can take a number of different turns. I’m afraid of early retirement. I’m afraid of if inflation gets unwieldy, or an unexpected health concern. What if the market tanks when I retire? We can give any client the ability to toggle these scenarios and see how that scenario affects them personally.”
• Build an emergency fund. “You want to make sure you’ve built an adequate emergency fund,” says Marc Freedman, president CEO of Freedman Financial in Peabody, Mass., and author of the book Retiring for the Genius. “Six to 12 months of your living expenses,” he says. “If you are 55 and faced with retiring soon, you should be able to do that.”
• Consider what you want in retirement. Once people get into their 50s, they need to look at how early they can retire, based on what they want, says Joe Franklin, president of Franklin Wealth Management in Hixson, Tenn. “Determine at what age you are independent enough to say, ‘I can keep working if I enjoy it or leave if I don’t like it.'”
• Reduce debt. “The more you can lower your committed expenses, the more flexibility you have,” says Sicchitano.
• Maximize contributions to your 401(k) and minimize fees. Jerry Schlichter, partner in the St. Louis law firm of Schlichter, Bogard & Denton, says the more attention you have paid to your retirement plan, the better you position yourself for an unexpected retirement. “You want to avoid paying fees that will deplete those assets. The Department of Labor has said a 1% difference in fees over a work life expectancy of 25 years will make a 28% difference in the retirement assets you have. Watch your fees, and make sure they are appropriate. Your company has a duty to make sure you are paying reasonable fees.You should look at what those fees are.”
If and when that unexpected and unwanted retirement does happen, here are eight tips on what to do.
1. Prepare for a range of emotions, says Janet Taylor, a New York City psychiatrist and consultant with AARP’s Life Reimagined. “Feel them and process them, but avoid feeling compelled to act on your feeling immediately,” she says.
“Relax,” says Freedman. “Don’t panic. What you may not be able to do tomorrow, may be an opportunity to do something different down the road.”
2. Examine your budget. “Make sure you are comfortable with how much it costs to support your living expenses,” says Freedman. “Many people don’t know what they spend. Grab your bank statements. Look at the total withdrawal number, add up six months of total withdrawals, multiply by two (giving you a year) and divide by 12.”
When you are faced with a surprise entry into retirement, you have to identify your fixed expenses and your discretionary expenses, Freedman says.
3. Set up a time to talk to human resources, if possible. “Assess your resources and sources of support,” says Taylor. “Lean on them.You are not alone.”
4. Look at your current lifestyle. “Look at your current living environment and say, ‘Can I support this lifestyle?'” says Freedman. You might have to downsize a bit. “Maybe it’s stopping the support you are providing to your children and grandchildren,” Freedman says. “There are a lot of things you can consider.”
It may not be easy, says Sullivan. “We can get you to be financially independent, but you have to make some major changes. Some people will go into denial and keep living as they were and not making changes, because it is an emotional issue. You know it will be a train wreck if they keep going that way. Counseling them on the emotional side is just as important as the financial side.”
5. Do not raid your 401(k). “It still is best to conserve assets in your 401(k) plan if at all possible because they are tax deferred, and you may pay penalties,” says Schlichter. “It should be the last resort for an employee unexpectedly laid off.”
6. Consider an encore career. “Maybe you look at unexpected retirement as a gift — as a chance for something you always wanted to do,” says Sicchitano. “Retrain and enter a new chapter. Our first question is how retired are you going to be?”
7. If you are retiring for health reasons and are unable to work, visit the Social Security Administration. “You can apply for disability benefits,” says Freedman. “It’s the main reason Social Security was built. It was really a widow’s, orphan’s and disabled person’s benefit. If you can’t work for health reasons, you can apply for disability benefits and collect at whatever age you might be. If you have young children you can collect checks for them, too.”
8. “Pay attention to your physical health,” says Taylor. “Changes can be stressful. Monitor your sleep and strive for healthy diets and regular exercise to combat stress.”

3 Little Mistakes That Can Sink Your Retirement

Interesting article about retirement

dollar sign Walter Updegrave @realdealretire
Oct. 15, 2014
Cultura RM/Korbey—Getty Images/Collection Mix
Big mistakes are easy to catch, but even a small miscalculation may jeopardize your retirement portfolio. Here are three common missteps to avoid.
We think it’s the big mistakes that cost us in retirement, like hiring an unscrupulous adviser or funneling savings into a risky investment that goes belly up. Major errors can certainly hurt. But the smaller seemingly sensible decisions we make without really examining the rationale behind them can also come back to bite us in the…
1. Relying on an unrealistic rate of return. Clearly, the higher the return you earn on the money in 401(k)s, IRAs and other retirement accounts, the less you’ll have to stash away in savings each month to build a sizable nest egg. For example, if you start saving $600 a month at age 30 and earn a 7% annual rate of return, you’ll have $1 million by age 65. Bump up that rate of return to 8% a year, however, and you have to put away only $480 a month to hit the $1 million mark by 65, leaving you an extra $120 month to spend. Earn 9% annually, and the monthly savings required to get to $1 million shrinks to just $385 a month, freeing up even more for spending.
Problem is, just because a retirement calculator lets you plug in a higher rate of return or a more aggressive stocks-bonds mix, doesn’t mean that loftier gains will actually materialize. Shooting for higher returns always involves taking on more risk, which raises the possibility that your aggressive investing strategy could backfire and leave you with a smaller nest egg than you expected. That can be especially dangerous when you’re on the verge of retirement.
For example, just prior to the financial crisis, nearly one in four pre-retirees had more than 90% of their 401(k)s in stocks. A pre-retiree with a $1 million retirement account invested 90% in stocks and 10% in bonds would have suffered a loss in 2008 of roughly 33%, reducing its value to $670,000—enough of a drop to require seriously scaling back retirement plans if not postponing them altogether. No one knows whether recent market turbulence will be a prelude to a similar meltdown. But anyone who has his retirement savings invested in a high-octane stocks-bonds mix, clearly runs the risk of a experiencing a significant setback.
A better strategy when creating your retirement plan is to keep your return assumptions modest and focus instead on saving as much as you can. That way, you’re not as dependent on investment returns to build an adequate nest egg. To see how different savings rates and stocks-bonds mixes can affect your chances of achieving a secure retirement, check out the Retirement Income Calculator in RDR’s Retirement Toolbox.
2. Factoring pay from a retirement job into your planning. It’s almost become a cliche. Virtually every survey asking pre-retirees what they plan to do in retirement shows that the overwhelming majority plan to work. Indeed, a recent Merrill Lynch survey found that nearly three out of four people over 50 said their ideal retirement would include working. Which is fine. Staying connected to the work world in some way can not only offer financial benefits, it can also keep retirees more active and socially engaged.
It would be a mistake, however, to factor the earnings you expect to receive while working in retirement into your estimate of how much you have to save. Or, to put it more bluntly, you’re taking a big risk if you assume that you can skimp on saving because you’ll be make up for a stunted nest egg with money from a retirement job.
Why? Well for one thing, what people say they plan to do in 10 or 20 years and what they end up doing can be very different things. You may find that the eagerness you feel in your 50s to continue to working may fade as you hit your 60s and 70s. Or even if you wish to work—and actively seek it through sites like RetiredBrains.com and Retirementjobs.com, it may not be as easy as you think to land a job you like. Maybe that’s why the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s Retirement Confidence Survey finds year after year that the percentage of workers who say they plan to work after retiring (65% in the 2014 RCS) is much higher than the percentage of retirees who say they have actually worked for pay since retiring (27%).
So when you’re making projections about income sources in retirement, keep work earnings on the modest side, if you factor them in at all. And don’t fall into the trap of believing you can get by with saving less today because you’ll stay in the workforce longer or rejoin it whenever you need some extra cash in retirement. Or you may find yourself working some type of job in retirement whether you like it or not.
3. Taking Social Security sooner rather than later. Although a recent GAO report found that the percentage of people claiming Social Security at age 62 has declined in recent years, 62 remains the single most popular age to begin taking benefits, and a large majority still claim benefits before their full retirement age. But unless you have no choice but to grab benefits early on, doing so can be a costly mistake.
One reason is that for each year you delay between 62 and 70, you boost the size of your benefit roughly 7% to 8%. You’re not going to find a low-risk-high-return option like that anywhere else in today’s financial markets. More important, waiting for a higher monthly check can often dramatically increase the amount of money you receive over your lifetime. That’s especially true for married couples, who can take advantage of a variety of claiming strategies to maximize their expected benefit.
For example, if a 65-year-old husband earning $90,00 a year and his 62-year-old wife who earns $60,00 claim Social Security at 65 and 62 respectively, they might receive just over $1.1 million in today’s dollars in joint benefits over their expected lifetimes, according 401(k) advice firm Financial Engines.
But they can boost their estimated joint lifetime benefit by roughly $177,000, according to the Social Security calculator on Financial Engines’ site, if the wife files for her own benefit based on her work record at age 63, the husband files a restricted application for spousal benefits at 66 and then switches to his own benefit based on his work record at age 70.
Although you may not think of it this way, Social Security is, if not your biggest, certainly one of your biggest and most valuable retirement assets. And chances are you’ll get more out of it by taking it later rather than sooner and, if you’re married, coordinating the timing with your spouse.
Walter Updegrave is the editor of RealDealRetirement.com. He previously wrote the Ask the Expert column for MONEY and CNNMoney. You can reach him at walter@realdealretirement.com.

What is the next step?

passportAre you thinking of retiring abroad? Become an ex-pat? What are the issues?
Is the cost of living in the US too much for your retirement income? Do you want a comfortable lifestyle at an affordable price? Always wanted to try a different culture?
Choosing to live in another country has many areas to think about. First of all, what country and why? Beach?  Inland?  Cost of living is most likely the first concern. How about the language? What is the health care like and what are the costs and quality? How easy is it to get back to the US if you need to? Should you rent or buy? Mountains or sea shore? Live in an ex-pat community or with the locals? What is the infrastructure of the community? What are retirement bikethe tax implications for the US and your adopted country? Where will you keep the bulk of your funds? Who will take care of US issues for you? Do you renounce your US citizenship or apply for dual citizenship or residency? Is this a permanent home or a few months out of the year?
We subscribe to a publication called “International Living.” It is full of ideas on where to find your new home and why. It is written by retirees who are living in the location and gives a fairly good idea of the local scene.
retirement globeLast month I wrote about starting your dream business. Is this a place where you can combine your dream business and dream location?
I have always thought I would live outside the US for the bulk of the year and try different cultures each year. Now my thoughts have changed and I want to be close to the children and grandchildren and they are all right here. As we travel the world, we are looking for a place better than our home in Colorado. So far we have found places where we would like to spend more time, but we are not ready to move.
What are your thoughts as retirement comes your way? Ready for a change or stay where you are? Retirement brings options and a chance to try something new. What will you choose?

Do you have 401(k) orphans?

401k  Have you switched jobs and not taken your 401(k) with you?
Leaving an employer is hard enough and you may have left your 401(k) at the old job. This is your nest egg and it may have been lost in the shuffle. Even small accounts can compound and make a big difference down the line. Especially if you have left accounts at several businesses.
Now is the time to take action. The easiest way to locate an orphaned account is to call the human resources department at your former employer. They can direct you to the plan provider. If the company has gone out of business, there is a National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits.
This may be the time to take control of your money and create an IRA. You may combine several of those small 401(k)s into one account and make it easier to track. We have products that start with $2,000 to $5,000 and up.
Example: I was helping a client go through paperwork from previous jobs. It showed that she had been contributing to her 401(k) at each job. Next she called each company and asked if the account was still open. She had moved all of her accounts but one! She found $20,000 that had not been moved and she didn’t remember having. Needless to say, she was very happy!
You may not be aware that you are contributing to your 401(k). Many companies make it an automatic deduction unless you request not to be in the fund. It will be on your pay stub and also on your W2 at the end of the year.
Whatever you do, do not cash it out! There could be penalties with the IRS and you could have income tax on the distributed amount. If you do have the funds sent directly to you, create a paper trail. You have 60 days to get the money into another 401(k) or IRA without penalty.

How To Get Started Marketing Your Business

By Tara Jacobsen, marketing guru and owner of Marketing Artfully
When you are all excited launching a new business, it is sometime hard to know how to get started with your marketing efforts. This is especially true if you have been in a job or the corporate world for a while. Over there it was common to have a “marketing department” or person responsible for getting new business. Now that you are in business for yourself, that is a hat that you will have to put on, AND which can be a fun hat to wear if you have a plan.

Three Different Marketing Plans For A New Business

Regardless of what you have heard, there is not one “right” way to market your business. There are actually thousands of ways that you can help to generate leads and make connections that will lead to closed sales. Here are three very different ways to look at marketing, depending on what your skill sets are!

The Social Butterfly

If you are a social creature who loves to get together with people and make new friends, marketing can seem more like a party and less like a grind. Here are three ways to use your social skills to get more leads:

1. Networking. Getting out there belly-to-belly and making new connections is the straightest line to making more money. If you are spending 4-5 hours a week attending different networking events, you can start to see how your product or service is being received in the marketplace and figuring out how to position it so that people are interested. Make sure you have a flyer or handout that you can give to people you meet, explaining your product or service, or even advertising a “new customer” sale.

2. Say yes to everything. When you are “out there” you will start to get invited to things. Say yes to every invitation knowing that as an “invited guest” you will be warmly welcomed. You will meet new people who you would never have access to without being in these situations.

3. Make a point of following up! Don’t just collect business cards or name and call it a day. Write down something about each person that you meet and ask them specifically how they like to be contacted. Some might like to meet face-to-face, some may be on social media or some may like to text. Make sure to contact them and thank them for connecting and see if there is anything that you can help them with.

The Technology Whiz

Saying that you are a tech whiz doesn’t mean that you know how to do everything online today, it just means that you are willing to learn new things and open to figuring out how to use technology for your marketing.

1. Have a newsletter. Start a newsletter using a service like MailChimp.com or ConstantContact.com that keeps you and your brand top of mind. SmarterWomenColorado.com’s Pat Frederiksen does this beautifully with her “free events in Denver” newsletter. Providing great value allows her to communicate with her readers on a monthly basis and she can include advertisements for her financial services in each message.

2. Social media. It can be scary and intimidating to jump into the Facebook or Twitter pool. What if no one reads what you wrote or what if everyone hates your posting marketing messages? Social media marketing (or social networking as we like to call it) is just like real networking. You would not walk up to a new person in real life and start jabbering about your really great product so don’t do that on Social Media. Instead look at the social sites as a way to start connecting with new prospects and building relationships that could lead to increased sales.

3. Video. There is nothing more impactful than to have a video that helps people available for people to watch. Doing “how to’s” and introductions to your product or service can be one of the most cost effective ways of marketing your business. Simply use your cell phone to make 1-2 minute videos of yourself talking about something related to your industry and share them on YouTube. You can also post them on Facebook, Twitter and all the other social sites, increasing your reach and connecting with new customers and prospects.

The Event Planner

If you love holding or attending events like teaching seminars, networking or other places where people get together, you are in luck! Having these types of events is a sure way to attract people who are interested in your product or service.

1. Teaching seminar. Getting people in a room and showing them something helpful related to your industry is a great way to grow your following and pipeline of prospects. Being an “expert” in your field and sharing that knowledge can help immediately overcome any objections they might have to purchasing your products or services.

2. Speaking locally. There are many opportunities to get out “in the field” and give presentations. Most Chambers, Business Clubs and Networking events need a steady stream of speakers to talk in front of the group. The key to success here is to remember that they are not there to be sold but to learn something interesting that will help them in their business or life.

3. Hold your own networking events. This one is a little tricky and can cause you to take your eye off of the selling prize, but done correctly is a powerful tool for growing your influence and meeting new people. It is easy to find free venues to hold your events, send out invitations to your email list, post them on Facebook and talk about it when you are networking at other places (people who like to network will love your event too!) Make sure to keep a list of the people who attended and invite them back for each event.

Hopefully these suggestions have given you at least a spark of an idea about how to get started marketing your business. None are set in stone and you can mix and match them to fit your personality and talents.

Author Bio

Tara Jacobsen is a sales and marketing speaker, author and consultant that you will not forget. She brings with her a true, hands on marketing, goal setting and time management focus, and yet energizes her audience with full on content and interactive participation. Find out more about her products and services at http://marketingartfully.com.