7 Simple Questions to Help You Plan For Retirement

Planning your retirement can be difficult and confusing. Here are seven questions every future retire should ask themselves.

Mar 9, 2014 at 12:10PM


49% of workers, according to a 2013 study conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, are not confident they will have enough money to live comfortably through retirement. On top of that, 38% were only "somewhat" confident.

In an effort to better prepare today's workers – or, at least help you start asking the right questions – I've enlisted the help of one of Cetera Financials Top Financial Advisors.

David Elefant is a 25-year veteran of the financial industry and he graciously donated his time to give us seven questions everyone should ask themselves to prepare for retirement.

1. "How long are you going to work for?"
As David mentioned, whether it's over the phone or in person, step one is understanding the client's goals. This should include, perhaps the most important goal, how far are you away from retirement?

Remember, while you can begin receiving social security at age 62, the "full retirement age" – which is the age at which you receive full social security benefits -- for individuals born after 1959 is now 67.

Five years can make a huge difference in an investment strategy, so get clear about what age you plan to retire and whether or not that will include working part-time.

2. "What are you spending?"
When it comes to nailing down how much money you'll need for retirement, it all starts with how much you're spending.

David suggested that even doing something as simple as creating an excel spreadsheet is more than enough to get a feel for what clients may need.

3. "Is there spending you can cut?"
Once you've got your spreadsheet in hand, David noted you should always be looking for opportunities to cut any unnecessary spending – or, to seek out opportunities to earn extra income.

In case, however, you can't fathom reducing any of your current expenses, make sure to at least avoid "10 Common Spending Regrets" as complied by AARP. 

4. "Are you accounting for taxes?"
David mentioned when clients are creating a budget for retirement, it's fairly common to forget to account (pun intended) for taxes.

Pensions and investment income (such as annuities) will all be taxed so prepare your budget accordingly. 

5. "Will you maintain your home?"
As most home owners are aware, mortgage or not, maintenance and upkeep of a residence can get expense.

So for future retirees, deciding how and where you'll like to live is an essential consideration.

6. "Do you have assets that can be repositioned?"
As mentioned earlier, the timeline for when you plan to retire will have a significant impact on the type of investment vehicles that makes the most sense.

With that said, David mentioned that clients will often have assets (money) that can be more efficiency utilized.

In 2013, for instance, clients willing to better utilize capital, even in fairly low-risk stock market vehicles, would have earned, at least, 6% to 8% -- which is a substantially more than the sub-one-percent interest rates banks offer.

7. "Do you want to take one big trip per year, or five?"
Maybe you want to spend your retirement traveling, opening a small business, or just sitting on the couch and watch TV. Either way, deciding how you want to spend your retirement will have an impact on how you should plan to save. 

Word to the wise, if there was just one thing David stressed more than anything else, it was be to be realistic with yourself and your goals.

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Securities offered through Cetera Financial Specialists LLC, (doing insurance business in CA as CFGFS Insurance Agency) member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Cetera Investment Advisers LLC. Cetera entities are under separate ownership from any other entity. 

David Elefant - Wealth Management Group
300 West Main Street, Rockaway, NJ 07866
Tel (973) 627-6066 / Fax (973) 627-6694

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4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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