Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Retirement Preparation

Did you know its National Retirement Week? I didn't until I was visiting Mapgirl's Fiscal Challenge. Sponsored by the ICMA and resolved by the House of Representatives and the Senate, National Retirement Week is another step towards educating people on the need to plan now for retirement no matter what your situation is.

Many people ignore retirement planning. They think they aren't making it paycheck to paycheck how can they save for retirement. 20-somethings think retirement is too far away to have to think about it. Many women believe their husbands are taking care of it for them. There are those that believe Social Security and Medicare will be enough. They are up for a rude wake up call.

If I knew then what I know now...

I wouldn't have cashed out my first 401k. At the time I thought it was my only option. It was just after the dot-com crash of 2001. That cost a lot of money and I lost years of compound interest.

I would have started saving smaller amounts earlier. I thought it didn't count unless I put in $144 per month.

I would have involved my mom earlier. I had a surprise when my grandfather passed away and my grandmother had no idea about their finances. When I found out mom was almost as unfamiliar I spoke up.

So where do you start if you haven't started? With baby steps! Open an account that isn't connected to your checking account or at a different bank altogether. Why not a high interest online account? Whatever it is get started. Learn about account types like the traditional IRA, ROTH IRA, and Rollover IRA.

Set aside a certain amount each week or month and make it regular. If you need to start with a smaller amount do it, but set a date to review your finances and bump it up to a higher level.

Don't be afraid to ask questions of your retirement specialist at work if you have one. Check out online education sites like America Saves or the Motley Fool. You don't have to be an expert, but educating yourself on the basics is important. Register for a class at the local community college. Looking for more information on investing? Check out the National Association of Investors Corporation (NAIC).

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