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One common obstacle for retirement is a poor performing 401K or 403B.  Many of our clients have 401K options from their employment that they are participating in or contributing heavily to.  They face significant penalties for withdrawing money prior to age 59 1/2.  Well what is one to do if the market drops heavily and you see a large chunk of your retirement nest egg suddenly flushed down the toilet? 

Recently I spoke with a man about 12 years from retirement who just lost over $50,000 of his $300,000 retirement account.  He was devastated by the loss and frustrated that he could do nothing with the account for about 6 to 7 more years.  However, he was contributing about $500 more monthly than what his company was matching.

So the good news is that he can open a new retirement policy with the extra money, get protection from market losses while still allowing for market gains, and continue to get his company match through the 401K!!  And even better, he can set himself up for tax-free income from the 2nd account in retirement.  Sound too good to be true?  Once you find out the details you will discover that it is true, and the numbers are staggering!!


 
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One of the biggest concerns in planning for retirement today is the fear of outliving our retirement funds.  On average, people are living much longer than in previous generations and many will live well into their 90's.  While this is a wonderful thing, it creates a need for 20 or more years of retirement income that must also take into account the impact of inflation. 

The good news is that many annuity and life insurance products offer lifetime income riders that guarantee that your funds will not run dry!  Many also include riders that allow income increases to account for future inflation! 

The other major fear is that of paying large percentages of retirement distributions to Uncle Sam.  It seems quite evident that tax rates are very likely to increase in the future, so many are rightfully worried about the prospects of paying large percentages of their retirement income to the government.  This is the potential downfall of tax-deferred plans.  It is nice to avoid taxation on the front end, but it could be much worse during the distribution phase of retirement.  However, the good news is that there are plans available that are IRS compliant that allow for tax-free income during retirement, and your account can continue to grow as you are taking out income, reducing the risk of outliving your retirement fund!  The key to all of this is education.  It is important to meet with a trusted advisor who is up to speed on these products instead of trying to navigate these waters all by yourself!  


 
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The past decade has unquestionably altered the way in which we must view and approach retirement.  Rocked by the events of 9/11 and then the recession, the stock market showed little net gain during the past 10 years, and many people saving for retirement have suffered lossed in both investments and home values.  Couple that with the fact the government has been running a $1.3 trillion deficit, putting in question how we will continue to fund social security and medicare benefits.  This creates much uneasiness regarding what tax burdens may look like during the distribution phase of retirement funds!

At the same time, the baby boomer generation, the largest in our country's history, is now moving into their retirement years, with many projected to live well into their 90's.  More uncertainty arises from the fear that a retirement portfolio that would have been adequate or even comfortable 10 years ago will be unable to sustain a long retirement in today's economic and tax environment.

However, many Americans are proving to be adaptable and resourceful.  They are willing to not only become more disciplined with their finances, but are looking hard at potential course-corrections that can get them back on the right track.  They are understanding that now, more than ever, they need to seek professional guidance to create a path toward a successful, secure retirement!  Don't try to navigate the waters by yourself.  There are excellent options available if you look to the right sources!  Be proactive in planning your retirement and don't assume that your company 401k is the best or only option!


 
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The 2 main obstacles that I have witnessed in people's efforts (or lack thereof) in planning for retirement are lack of information (or misinformation) and procrastination.  I believe that many avoid dealing with this issue because they view their retirement as very uncertain and possibly shaky. 

However, the good news is there are some excellent options available to most people, including those with very limited expendable income.  Most people are afraid to speak with an advisor for fear of being told that they need to come up with an additional sum of money that they simply cannot produce, or curtailing the lifestyle that they are comfortable living.  However, a good advisor can look at the larger picture of a client's money pie and assist in reducing tax burdens and other unnecessary expenses.  It is just a matter of taking the time to sit down with the right kind of advisor, one with your best interest in mind! 

Finally, the best time to act is now.  Timing is extremely important in retirement planning.  Obviously, the younger you are, the longer your money can grow before retirement.  However, if you are no longer in the spring chicken category, there still may be some great options for you unless you keep on waiting!  As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago, the second best time is today!

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