How to Retire in Style

It's said that we human beings stand out from other species by virtue of our ability to think and plan ahead. While that may be true, most of us also have great trouble thinking about or preparing for the long term, as we're continuously caught up in everyday tasks and toil. Heck, it's difficult enough to plan something six months ahead, like a summer vacation. How on earth are we supposed to think about something in the distant future -- like retirement?

Nevertheless, thinking in advance and acting on those thoughts is key to being ready when the future becomes the present. The younger you are, the more distant your retirement -- and the greater your ability to compound your returns over time. That window of time is your greatest advantage.

In this collection, we try to answer the important questions:

  • How much will I need to save for retirement in order to live comfortably?
  • What are my goals?
  • When should I start?
  • What should I do?
  • How much can I count on from Social Security?
  • What costs might I run into once I've actually retired?

We all need to ask these questions, but with all our short-term preoccupations, we often wait too long to do so. These 13 Retirement Steps, along with a bevy of tools for running the numbers, can help you cut through the haze and see the realities that will make your golden years truly golden -- in fine Foolish fashion. Let's get started!

Questions about your plan? Consider a 30-day free trial to our Rule Your Retirement service, which features a monthly newsletter, solid asset allocation and investing advice, high-powered financial-planning tools, and professionally staffed discussion boards. Give it a complimentary test-drive.

Now get ahead of the game!
You know that investing is the best way to ensure your financial future, but if you're like so many people, you just don't know where to start. I'm happy to tell you that you can learn everything you need to know to be a successful investor in 13 easy steps — Less than 30 minutes a day for less than two weeks can change your life forever. It's not hard, it's not scary, and it doesn't require you to invest a dime more than you're comfortable with. And all 13 steps are free for you. Click here to start today!

Read/Post Comments (56) | Recommend This Article (591)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 06, 2009, at 12:39 AM, FOOLTOCROSS wrote:

    I don't have a million to play with, but I give you the thumbs up.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2011, at 7:42 AM, mischkap wrote:

    What is the penalty on funds withdrawn from a Roth IRA before age 59 1/2?

  • Report this Comment On April 24, 2011, at 8:35 PM, sedie3000 wrote:

    10% plus taxes.

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2011, at 12:50 PM, LF1989 wrote:

    My spouse and I(both 45 years old) invested in a whole life policy last year with Mass Mutual and are investing roughly $5000 per month. We were recently told by our accountant that we should never have gone with Whole Life and should eat the losses and get out now and put our money into term and mutual funds. Can anyone tell me if it is worth losing the $68000 we've already put into it and go elsewhere. Should we dump one policy and keep the other? Or stay where we are. We are embarassed that we went into this without educating ourselves first.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2011, at 7:46 AM, JCashForever wrote:


    Not knowing your situation, I'd be a fool to comment, but that hasn't stopped me in the past for other posters. So here goes.

    Some comments:

    1. A whole life policy is probably not the best way of investing money. Since it combines an investment vehicle with a life insurance policy, it is usually an extremely conservative and expensive option. That is, the returns are usually paltry and the expenses are very high. Your accountant sounds like he knows a little something, and I like the idea of getting term insurance and investing the savings in premiums elsewhere. I would ask him for advice or find an investment professional that you can trust. The Mass Mutual person who got you into the whole life policy would not be on the top of my list.

    2. If I recall correctly, you can stop paying premiums on a whole-life policy and let it self-fund to perpetuity or until the money runs out. Or you can cash it out. Best to talk with your accountant or advisor about the best option. The message here is that you should find another vehicle to invest your $5K a month.

    3. On the good side, with $5K a month to invest, you should be able to build a nice-sized portfolio fairly quickly that can provide growth and/or income as necessary for your needs. Again your advisors should be very helpful here.

    4. There's nothing to be embarrassed about. We all make mistakes. Just try to figure out if this really is a mistake. Who knows, maybe there is a legit reason for being in a whole life policy. But if there isn't, then move on. You're only in your 40' you still have plenty of time to learn and probably make many more mistakes. Just keep learning from them.

    Good luck. You'll be fine.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2011, at 11:55 AM, starrose12 wrote:

    Dear LF1989,

    I work in the insurance industry and some people do use permanent policies as a retirement funding vehicle. Simply put, it allows people to save money with better interest rates than any bank would have right now. The only way it works though is to overfund the policy so that you have a nice chunk of change at the end of the timeline you are looking at. Your advisor should have shown you what the cash value of your policy would be in the timeframe that you gave him/her. When you are ready to take the money out you can do so by taking a percentage of the cash value as a loan on the policy. That loan you don't have to pay back if you do not want to, it just gets subtracted from the death benefit. As long as there is money in the policy it will still stay in force. Since I don't know your exact situation, I can't tell you whether what you did was right or wrong. What I would do is what JCashForever said and talk to some other people. Make sure that your goals are being met with this policy. If not, you should sit down with someone who wants to help you reach your goal, not just help themselves to a nice commission. You still have time to change things and I'm sure you'll find that you aren't making the mistakes that you think you are!

    Good luck.

  • Report this Comment On July 05, 2011, at 11:29 PM, TBone008 wrote:

    Dear LF1989,

    I also work in the insurance industry as well, and notice the terminology that starrose12 is using.... "Ready to take the money out you can take a percentage as a "LOAN" and if you don't pay it back it gets "DEDUCTED" from your death benefit, the cash value built inside the policy isn't really your money, it is the insurance company's, if you look closely at your policy paperwork i'm sure you will find the terminology "cash SURRENDER value" because you surrender the cash back to the company, your beneficiary does NOT get both the cash and the death benefit, it's whichever is greater, life insurance is meant to just insure the INCOME of a person should they die prematurely, never as a savings vehicle. Whole life, universal life, pure protection etc.... (notice all the names to describe cash value) I personally would take the advice of your accountant and look into possibly taking out a term life policy and investing the difference elsewhere, Suze Orman is notorious for giving that advice.

    Good luck

  • Report this Comment On July 10, 2011, at 7:45 AM, sweydert wrote:


    Although it's not possible to offer professional advice in this forum, perhaps the best way to ensure you make the right decisions going forward is to get unbiased financial advice from a fee-only financial advisor.

    In my opinion it doesn't make sense to take financial advice from anyone who (1) is not a verified expert and (2) has no economic interest in his or her recommendations. Could you imagine sending your mother to see an advisor who doesn't at least meet these basic criteria? Why would accept less for yourself?

    In seconds you can select from a pool of about 1,500 such advisors nationwide at


    Steven Weydert, CFP(r), MS


    Weydert Wealth Management, LLC

    Irvine, CA

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2011, at 3:28 PM, pdquapp wrote:

    Im 30 and have about a 1 million and dont know what to do with it. High dividend stocks?

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2011, at 11:33 AM, fraudexposer wrote:


    Life insurance is NOT an investment, unless you are investing in the protection of your loved ones. When I sold financial products, I never sold a whole life policy. I prefer Universal Life--but compare products from various companies. Look for the date of the mortality table used. If they use a twenty year old table, they are using high, obsolete rates--rates from when people did not live as long as they now do.

    With Universal, you have flexibility. You can toss in $5k at the start of the year and the net amount earns interest from day one. Each month the monthly cost for pure insurance and the fees are deducted, but the balance earns interest. With an annual premium you save on the huge amount charged to those who pay installments, and you earn more interest.

    If you take a loan, you are borrowing from the insurer and the loan is charged interest because you have the right to repay it, and restore the full death benefit. Compare loan interest rates between insurers.

    You also can take cash as a withdrawal, reducing the death benefit but not paying loan interest. If you ever choose to increase the death benefit in future years, you may need to prove good health (depending on the amount of the increase).

    Universal life is good for people who may lose their jobs or have sudden, huge expense (i.e., medical). If you have sufficient cash to carry the policy until you can afford to pay again, no interest is charged. This is not a loan. The policy continues to exist, the death benefit does not reduce, but the cash value decreases by the amount of insurance and fees charged each month--and that is all.

  • Report this Comment On October 30, 2011, at 10:36 PM, karlm1 wrote:

    Are you sure its a whole life policy? withe the amounts you are putting in it sounds more like a Universal or variable life product where you can direct investments into sub accounts. Typically the fees on invested dollars are pretty high as well as increasing fees for mortality risk year after year. Also if you over fund the policy it will convert to an annuity so make sure you are not putting too much in. I agree that this is not the best place to invest. Universal and variable life products can be surrended for the cash invested inside the policy minus a surrender charge so you are not going to lose all your 68K. You are going to be okay.

  • Report this Comment On November 06, 2011, at 12:03 PM, fstphn wrote:

    ROTH withdrawal of PRINCIPAL has NO

  • Report this Comment On November 06, 2011, at 12:05 PM, fstphn wrote:

    ROTH IRA WITHDRAWAL OF PRINCIPAL HAS NO PENALTY, regardless of age. Earnings must be held for 5 years.

  • Report this Comment On November 28, 2011, at 1:56 AM, Merins wrote:

    I think one should start considering his retirement planning at an early stage of life so as to enjoy a comfortable retirement. Try to start your retirement planning as early as possible because the risk taking capacity is high when we are young. Generating a high return from our income always becomes our priority at a younger stage. The longer is the period for investment, the more you can save and thereby avail the benefits of compounding interest rate. I would recommend the early you start your retirement planning, the more is the amount you will have at the time of retirement.


  • Report this Comment On December 14, 2011, at 4:32 AM, AFVeteran wrote:

    Its amazing to me that an accountant would advise you of what to INVEST in when that isnt really his area of expertise. Given the state of the market you have to wonder what HIS portfolio looks like given how he dismisses an INSURANCE and tells you to "invest" your money somewhere else.

    Here are facts about the policy you have

    7%+ dividend

    Guaranteed cash value growth


    Death Benefit that is MULTIPLES of cash put in

    Tax free growth and TAX FREE WITHDRAWLS

    First and foremost its an INSURANCE which means in case things happen....youve put in 2500 a month in on each policy which leads me to believe its somewhere around a 2-3 million dollar policy depending on your health

    Will a mutual fund pay you a millions of dollars if your husband dies while you have maybe 100-200K invested with them? No

    There are IRS rules in place which make certain functions of a whole life policy mandatory (cant overfund it, have to take "loans" vs straight cash etc.) Look at the policy....notice that mathmatically if you pay your premium to age 100 it matches the initial death benefit face amount.

    Upon closer inspection youll notice that your face amount is much smaller than the actual death benefit which will increase with yearly dividends

    Case in point I ran a general 45 old male 1mil face amount policy to age 100 - 20K a year premium - by age 70 his cash value is 810k and his death benefit is 1.6mil with a dividend of about 31K and rising each year as equity builds. This guy has put in 488K in and has a death benefit of almost 4 times that should something happen AND can pull the cash out TAX FREE to supplement his retirement as he sees fit...whether thats the dividend amount or whatever he decides he free

    ZERO RISK with 1mil protection from day one and growing yearly for age 100 there is a death benefit of 4.6 million tax free.....people who "buy term" cant buy term when they really need it and rarely ever actually invest to reach these goals anyway...Mass offers convertible term for those who cant afford the proper whole protection in their younger years....but imagine NOT having whole life in place and developing a medical condition that no one will write term for? What then? Its INSURANCE not vegas.....the IRR is like 5.5% or better depending on dividend rates which have been as high as 12% some years....mostly hovering around 8% over the last decade

    Whole life is about guarantees which no one else will give you.

    Its another asset class thats a solid foundation for more aggressive strategies. Its an instant estate.

    Please call your Mass rep and go over the policy again so you can understand it. In year 10 your cash value will about equal your premiums youve paid in...if you still feel the same for whatever reason you can cash then - its NOT an involve RISK....this is guaranteed for life NOT a gamble.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2012, at 8:04 PM, Hawmps wrote:

    The problem with investing in life insurance for retirement is the requirement of death to receive the benefit.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2012, at 8:18 PM, Hawmps wrote:

    The problem with life insurance as an investment is that it requires death to get the benefit.

  • Report this Comment On March 20, 2012, at 6:57 PM, regc wrote:


    I am not involved in the industry at all, but my financial advisors (more than one) have shown me insurance policies that allow you to take out funds while living. Yes you can call it a 'loan', pay interest (about equal to the interest you are earning on those funds held aside in the account), use the money tax free (a great benefit), and then pay back the loan from proceeds when the account blossoms upon death. So as a retirement option, there are a number of pluses, especially if as one poster said LF1989 is getting a guaranteed 7+% growth as well. Properly chosen and set up, it does not require death to get the benefit of an additional vehicle to diversify investments so everything for retirement use isn't in the stock market.

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2012, at 9:44 AM, Dextronomous wrote:


    In the interest of full disclosure, I currently hold 8 securities licenses as well as a Life & Health insurance license and I am a fee- only financial advisor, however, without knowing all of your circumstances it is impossible to give any suggestions. I do know that all investment vehicles, insurance or otherwise, have there place in the proper situation. The one thing I do know is that 8 out of 10 term policies never get used (insurance pros and companies will never tell you this)so the money paid into them is gone. At 45 years old, even a 30 year term takes you to 75 yrs old and then what? Your life expectancy and your wife's is more than likely longer than that and at 75 yrs old it'll be difficult to get sufficient insurance to cover your needs. Obviously, there are major risks to your principle in the market, even following Motley Fool, who is very good but pounded the table on stocks like Netflix at 186 and the stock is in the 60's. Therefore, I'd suggested you use a combination of vehicles to ensure your retirement nestegg. Stock market, perhaps some municipal bonds which guarantee principle if the proper analytics are done first, and insurance that you know will be there regardless of how long you live. Find an advisor you can trust that doesn't just work on one side or the other. All these investments have a place in the right situation. Good Luck.

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2012, at 9:58 AM, Dextronomous wrote:


    By the way, Aviva has an IUL where the "loan" never has to be paid back and while the death benefit initially goes down, at some point, it turns and begins to go back up so TBone008's comment is not always the case. Of course, if yyou are in the market there are options strategies you can use to build income and protect yourself a bit, but if Europe or the U.S. for that matter implodes, what else do you have. Diversification across products and asset classes can mitigate some of the risk. Without seeing you policy it is difficult to say but I would be disinclined to tell you to throw away the $68K or so that you have paid into the policy. Review the policy and find out if you can overfund it and/or at what point you can begin taking the policy loans. This way you may be able to recapture some of your money and then let it lapse if that is your decision. Best Regards,

    John Pineman

    Pineman Capital, Inc.

    9348 Newport Lane

    Highlands Ranch, CO 80130

  • Report this Comment On August 24, 2012, at 2:39 PM, adforms150 wrote:

    i have a question how much do i need to start in options

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2013, at 8:39 PM, mdschwers wrote:

    I am still learning as I go. What other investment "vehicles" (I love that term), should I consider when taking my TSP (govt 401k) at 57 years of age? Under my career series, 57 is mandatory retirement. I want to continue to work until 63 or 64 and then hang it up in the USVI. With a projected amount of approximately $800,000 (not including pension and social security) what's the best option for me? I am still very healthy and will have little debt at 55 years of age. All reasonable suggestions are welcome! Thanks!!

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2013, at 1:40 AM, EdwardVance wrote:

    The conclusion on this article - - made me return here to look if there is anything that addresses this statement: "The 65-and-older age group is expected to become larger and have more influence in the future."

    My concern is that when the 65 and above demographic reaches a larger population and demand for the commodities and services we use increases, will our retirement benefits and even our hedge funds cover the corresponding increase in our cost of living.

    I mean to live for a longer while and in relative comfort. I don't want to wake up on my twilight years to find out that I can't afford it.

  • Report this Comment On April 15, 2013, at 10:05 PM, sicafrank wrote:

    I've been a financial advisor for 29 years. Buying permanent life insurance and taking loans to provide income sounds great but is not what really happens. If you are going to invest for retirement invest for retirement keeping the expenses to a minimum. Buy permanent life insurance not whole life for the protection it offers not for retirement. When its time to take the money your advisor can assist you in managing your taxes. Fund your 401k/ qualified plan first to the maximum you can - get the tax breaks it offers today. I have no doubt that saving the same amount in your 401k will reap you more than the cash values that whole life projections illustrate. Remember dividends are not guaranteed in a life insurance policy. The insurance rep earns about 60% commission on the whole life premium not bad for him or her but maybe bad for you.

  • Report this Comment On April 20, 2013, at 11:45 PM, mtimothy wrote:

    Hi all, I like AFveteran Dec 14 comment, as this is

    what I am doing, of all the crazy stuff out there, this is the rock, the base, I started it Jan 15 at age 55.

    I always wonder about comments regarding qualified advisors and advisors with titles. What were they telling us in 2000, and many instances.

    How do they know. It's a crap shoot is why I guess they diversify a few directions.

    Mass Mutual put a program together for my disabled sister, a substantial amount of money claiming whole life was not needed.

    So I told my mother who is trustee but passing trustee over to Mass Mutual, their stocks/bond and annuity portfolio had,

    zero guarantee that was liquid and tax free ( annuity having a gurantee but not a liquid sum available )

    Mother went with my idea with 100k into whole life

    which is still very small % of the total.

    I also note that qualified experts always say max 401k, defering income into aggressive taxation and possibly confiscation or special taxes above $3M.

    The experts are not going to know what is going to happen and when it goes wrong they won't say anything.

    They are following a convention of relatively recent ( 30 years ) debt expansion with anomoloys dislocations, out of historical context.

    I am not an expert, I can't say but I don't see anything wrong with what you do.

    You could look at a time when cash balance is available to take out ( reducing death benefit )

    and use that toward annuity and stock/bond portfolio diversification.

    Which is correct, to diversify when the primary objective of guaranteed base is prepared, this is my non professional thought.

    I also like the base guaranteed money to be in Mutual, outside of washington-wallstreet disasters.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2013, at 12:37 AM, mtimothy wrote:

    For example relative to needing or listening to


    In 2007 I stubled across a Federal Reserve report.

    I could just as well have not stumbled into it.

    Apparently no one did.

    It said, in 2006 and 2007, the people withdrew

    7% of GDP from home equity both years.

    I checked a calculation and figured the economy was collapsing at approximately 8% annually.

    GDP growth was about 2%, inflation 3%.

    2% - 3% - 7% = -8%

    No one was bearish about markets or economy

    and it took a long while from there to manifest observably to all.

    They just don't know. So the game is diversify and

    hope you live long enough to retire in an upswing.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 2:56 PM, foolcesa wrote:

    I'm 50 and already on Social Security -disability, and have been for about 10 years. I'm trying to get back to regular work, but there is no guarantee that I can manage it. I've had a couple of false starts since I've been on disability.

    Is there such a thing as retirement planning for someone who is young for retirement, but unable to work?

    I have < 10k any kind of investments/long-term savings. (my old 401k was on track, but it's history now due to misunderstanding about whether I am allowed to have assets)

    Since SSDI *is* my retirement income, and my income sources are limited by my health, am I already considered as financially "retired"? Where are the plans for someone in my type of situation?

  • Report this Comment On June 06, 2013, at 8:38 PM, workalone wrote:

    foolese: My understanding is that since you can't work and your income is limited to SSA disability, you are retired on based on social security disability and how much you put into the system when you were working. If you did not have enough to qualify which apparently you did, you would then qualify for SSI.. This means that you will have a steady source of income but probably not enough enough to invest.( Foolese moniker seems like you enjoy investing so your situation is vague or perhaps you didn't spend it all down)

    SSA disability is and was intended to help you, your spouse and under age children cover some of the gap in income from a true disability where you cannot work. Generally but not always* under social security disability you must be totally disabled so unless you had savings or investments, inheritance that you did not spend down, you probably don't.. In your case it appears that you thought you were under SSI disabled that have insufficient income or payment/time into the social security systemsets so is this why you say you now have no assets? T

    There is a provision that tries to stop the spending down of assets on purpose and use taxpayer money to get government money for expensive services like nursing homes (putting house in child's name etc) within 3 years of applying for assistance at least in the last 20 years or more. I had seen the uber-wealthy put their parents in medi-Cal or medicaid nursing homes with careful disposing of their assets or hiding funds off shore.They needed financial advisors for that! .

    However, there are few financial advisors, if any except for volunteers or pro-bono financial advisors for those that do not have assetst do not have assets because most are paid a percentage based on assets under investment which can also be called a percentage based fee, or basis points rather than a flat fee. In the end the more money you make the more they charge you, regardless if it was their doing or not, same if it goes down. Not sure if there is fine print to that, I have usually seen a published scale and I would certainly request one so you have some idea.. With a fee, they take the money from you and are supposedly not tied to any one company making them impartial ( however they still might get commissions or bonuses of some sort) or commission paid by the companies that sell these products. (You might want to ask Spitzer about that and suddenly after he exposed some corruption what happened to him. At least he used 80k of his own money unlike most politicians that use taxpayer money. In that case it is between his family and him)..

    .. Whatever you want to call it, fee or commission, the more assets under investment an advisor has the more money they can make having you for a client and if you have no assets, you will have to read or figure out how to budget to put some money away for later even if you don't have one. .

    Note:*totally disabled designation - some examples where this could change 1) psychologically disabling conditions i.e. depression becoming manageable or subsiding on its own, with therapy, drug.alcohol treatment, or new developments, 2(f time or a new physical disabiliies or new equipment to aid the disabled, medical treatment, surgery, medical devices, and other new therapies yet unknown.

  • Report this Comment On July 31, 2013, at 4:13 PM, Watch2man wrote:

    I'm 71, in good health, have a $250,000 portfolio, 40,000 in Gold, silver and some rare coins, 10,000 in an annuity, $142,000 in stocks and $65,600 in cash. Each year I must take out a percentage of my traditional IRA. Should I put it into my wife's Roth (up to $6,000 I believe since she still works). Also I'm I diversified enough? I have a pretty good balance of stocks I believe.

  • Report this Comment On October 17, 2013, at 7:59 PM, Heidikitty wrote:

    I am 72 years old and like the idea of dividends stock. Have KMP SDRL and am seriously considering KMI.

    Might need to taking dividends in 5 0r 6 years. Am I doing the right thing?

  • Report this Comment On October 27, 2013, at 8:09 PM, retep24 wrote:

    I am 63 years old and have not earned any income in 2013. My wife is working and I want to delay SS benefits until age 66 and use my savings to supplement my loss of income.,,,,,am I correct to assume my SS benfits grows by 8% each year I postpone applying for SS benefits? Is this flawed speaking to use savings and not SS benefits?

  • Report this Comment On November 03, 2013, at 3:29 PM, johntruck wrote:

    i am 57 am just getting over the fall of my family starting over my wife and i have 580 dollars a week to invest save or both what is the best strategy to start with. footnote we will be able to start contributing to a company 401k or roth with matching in may of 2014

  • Report this Comment On November 09, 2013, at 3:20 AM, zobie wrote:

    I am 100% SSA Disabled 30+Yrs. Future Income not needed now 500k+ in Mutual Funds.. I am a 66yr Male and wondering if multiple Annuities taken from our Mutual Funds is wise. My wife works, great income, my SSA, company retirement (no COLA), and my wife's 1st retirement keeps us in the game. Hope someone can help my understanding of Annuities...TKS ...

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2014, at 3:25 AM, Lonewolf616 wrote:

    Look into a 770 account. Tax free and do not need to report to IRS and usually gaurantees a 4.5 to 5 percent return. Good to start when young. Cater the plan to your needs. I would suggest a small death benefit and bigger life benifit. After all when your dead your dead.

  • Report this Comment On April 01, 2014, at 2:57 PM, oldladyretiree wrote:

    I noticed several of the postings were from people in the insurance field. I am 63, my husband is 74. We have Long Term Care Insurance for a number of years. Between the both of us it cost $1000.00 quarterly. We were just notified in a 7 page letter that our premium will go up 80%. Now I understand there may occasionally be an increase of 5-10%, but what the heck is the justification for 80% @ one time. Any insights would be appreciated. We'll have to take $ out of our stock equity to pay the premium.

    Thank you to whoever responds.

  • Report this Comment On April 04, 2014, at 3:39 PM, DrLarry wrote:

    retep24 wrote:

    "I am 63 years old and have not earned any income in 2013. My wife is working and I want to delay SS benefits until age 66 and use my savings to supplement my loss of income.,,,,,am I correct to assume my SS benfits grows by 8% each year I postpone applying for SS benefits?"

    I would apply for SS benefits and then suspend payments. This way the amount you draw will increase at that 8%/yr, but with an added advantage. At any point (emergency) you need a larger amount of cash, you can file for a lump sum that you would have been paid from the date of application. You final benefit amount will revert to the original, but you can get the lump sum if needed.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 3:02 PM, thiagorulez wrote:

    Thanks for putting this together, and to those who've provided informative responses! My dad was stressing me out with his stressing about retirement planning. Pointing him to this made things a walk in the park for him. He thinks he's an expert now thanks to you guys. Nice work! Thiago |

  • Report this Comment On April 29, 2014, at 10:38 AM, h0rhay wrote:

    I'm retired and trying to make my financial ducks line up by searching online for calculators, etc. My current search is for Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) information. I have calculated my First Distribution Date based on my birth date and the optional deferred date (April 1). My only question regards age and Life Expectancy (LE) factor from the LE Table. Because I will not have an RMD the first year, will I be able to treat the next year as if it is my first, with the April 1 deferral? Do I use the first year LE factor, or the second, which is different. The table indicates 0 across the board for age 70. Thank you.

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 8:13 PM, pookie wrote:

    I will retire in April 2016, and will roll over my 401k to an IRA, I have a little less than $500,000 to roll into the IRA. I need to make as much money (naturally) from my IRA. My initial thoughts are to invest in index mutual funds (Vanguard has some of my favorites).But I'm not positive which types (stocks, bonds, blends or combination). Can you help with advice, please? Maybe refer me to some "good" reading literature?


  • Report this Comment On June 10, 2014, at 7:01 AM, DanBear wrote:

    I added a question yesterday, June 9, 2014. Maybe it didn't get posted yet.

    My concern is weather to invest in a mutual fund or in a Roth IRA. I can only invest $100.00 per month until I retire in 10 years or so. Remember that I'm 67 and my wife is 70, retired. At this time, is it safer to go with a Roth IRA or mutual fund? My interest is in a mutual fund; in contrast, my wife likes a Roth IRA.

    Thank you, Dan

  • Report this Comment On July 02, 2014, at 5:57 PM, cuenet123 wrote:

    Do both. Start a Roth and invest your Roth contributions into a mutual fund. If you've already paid tax on the money you would have put into a mutual fund, put it in a Roth first and you won't pay tax on the fund's earnings. ever.

  • Report this Comment On July 20, 2014, at 5:46 PM, tes1900 wrote:

    I am retired, with many medical problems. I know I keep looking at growth but I do require dividends to survive.

    I try to find a good dividend producer at a reasonable price and grow with it, sometimes I have been lucky but time is running out.

    For the most part I am uneducated and need help/guidance investing. As I am not aware of the ins and outs and much of the terminology.

  • Report this Comment On September 23, 2014, at 2:50 PM, AuntieKK2110 wrote:

    My grandmother has a Long-Term Care Insurance Policy that she's been paying on since 1988 through Continental Insurance Co. Her premiums rose from $80+ to $395 per month. She is a fairly healthy 95 year old living at home with family. This policy doesn't come into play until she is hospitalized for 3 days and then put into a nursing facility for 12 days until it activates and then it will pay a caregiver a paultry $25.00 for a few hours per day. I was told by an insurance agent that these policies are no longer written like this and are illegal and that she should try to get some of her premiums back? She has no idea how this policy works until she needed some care at home.

    Continental never contacted her about this policy after the laws changed concerning these types of policies. Does she have Recourse?

  • Report this Comment On October 05, 2014, at 11:17 PM, ctowle501 wrote:

    My whole life policy with waivers, was the the best investment I ever made.

    I became disabled, the company pays several hundred on my behalf. My wife and I will still have the cash value to use upon old age. Notice I did not say retirement. But we are doing well. The kids have security and each of us feels secure. Do not think you have made a mistake. Consult. Consult, Consult.

  • Report this Comment On October 21, 2014, at 1:26 AM, pramfinancial wrote:

    Well the 13 step retirement schemes can really turn out to be useful if implemented properly & smartly. But one needs to have a correct vision to analyze how he can we made use of funds without risking it.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2014, at 5:11 PM, RGHdrone wrote:

    I'm one of those who never really paid attention in class when it came to retirement. Now I find myself at age 62 with about 28k invested in a Roth, mostly stocks with a couple mutual funds and a couple ETF's and a dirth of knowledge about what I'm doing. We only make a little over 60k a year. I'm open to any advice on directions to take. As far as stocks, I've picke mostly, but not entirely, dividend paying vehicles. My head is ready to retire, but obviously not may wallet.

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2015, at 10:55 AM, NiagaraMike wrote:

    I am 58 and I can not wait to retire. I never made big money but I started saving when I was very, very young and invested in the stock market. I have no company pension, just the minimal SS of 1300 a month at 62 or 1700 a month at 66, and an investment portfolio of $1,430,000. My modest house has no mortgage. When I do retire I want to travel more. Can I retire soon?

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2015, at 2:03 PM, rjccpa wrote:

    What are you going to do for health insurance until you reach 65?

  • Report this Comment On April 19, 2015, at 9:47 AM, NoNonsenseLL wrote:

    I plan on using my rental property income for my retirement between 56 and 62. Then start to phase in my investment income.

    Followed by a pension at 65, and SS at 70. Somewhere in the middle, I may start selling the rentals.

    Retirement is certainly possible. Rental Property helps.

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2015, at 6:03 PM, Sjumelet wrote:

    After reading about your investment,we have aall our money for years invested with American Investment Financial group,and am not ready to change anything,so please delete me from your investment. cincerely yours steve jumelet

  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2015, at 12:57 PM, twb930s wrote:

    LF1989 and others. Before dismissing Whole Life Policies, I suggest you look at Northwestern Life Insurance. (I do realize they are not exactly a "whole life company".) I purchased several policies starting in the early '80s and my current available cash value has far exceeded the total of my premium payments by well over 150%. I never considered this as an investment, but rather as a vehicle to provide financial protection for my family while still realizing a respectable income on my premium payments. The return on these polices doesn't begin to approach my other investment returns, but it hasn't been insignificant. I never really believed the projections presented by my agent at the time, but reality has shown that those projections were extremely conservative. Now, at 68, the dividends are paying my premiums as well as continuing to add to my cash value at a fairly decent rate. It has been a win-win for my family all the way around. IN addition, should I want to use some of the cash balance for whatever reason, it is non-taxable up to the amount of my premium payments. Not a bad investment after all.

  • Report this Comment On October 05, 2015, at 10:03 PM, BrookPutnam1 wrote:

    For Generation X and Millennials, this means opting out of Social Security!

  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2015, at 11:54 AM, idsfaip wrote:

    I liked the comment about "insurance companies will never tell you that most term policies are never used." I have auto, health, and home insurance... I hope to never have to use any of them.

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2016, at 6:21 PM, lcp wrote:

    Am I incredibly stupid or does this guide only have 6 steps then go off into the weeds about SS?

  • Report this Comment On February 14, 2016, at 3:18 AM, fitriulina1 wrote:

    Thanks for putting this together, and to those who've provided informative responses! My dad was stressing me out with his stressing about retirement planning. Pointing him to this made things a walk in the park for him. He thinks he's an expert now thanks to you guys.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2016, at 11:11 AM, Beachman32169 wrote:

    Whatever you do, don't lose money on your substantial investment. You may have a really good, conservative participating whole life product. If so, you should be able to structure your policy payments so you can fully or partially make premium payments with policy loans after you have built enough cash value. You could then use the savings in premium payments for other purposes, and keep your policy in force. Your agent should be able to help you to achieve this goal. Hopefully, you have a policy that is structured to be paid up in 20 years. Starting policy loans after year 10 to pay premiums may work wonders to pay off the policy, keep it in force, and free up your premium payments for other opportunities. If you don't like volatility, and you have a large estate or other insurable interest, the whole life policy may be a good fit into your portfolio. As for the effects of inflation, on the insurable interest side of your needs, a participating whole life policy increases in value over the years as dividends are reinvested.

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