How to Plan for Retirement

Maximizing Social Security Benefits

Secure Strategies for a Safe Retirement

Social Security benefits play a crucial role in ensuring a stable and secure retirement. For many retirees, understanding how to maximize these benefits is essential for financial well-being. This comprehensive guide will explore various strategies to help you get the most out of your Social Security benefits, ensuring a safe and secure retirement. We’ll cover the basics of Social Security, when to claim your benefits, secure strategies to maximize them, common pitfalls to avoid, and how to integrate Social Security with other income sources.

Understanding Social Security

Social Security benefits are designed to provide financial support during retirement. The amount you receive depends on your earnings history and the age at which you claim your benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) calculates your benefit based on your highest 35 years of earnings. Understanding how your benefits are calculated is the first step in maximizing them.

When to Claim Social Security

One of the most critical decisions you’ll make is when to start claiming your Social Security benefits. You can begin claiming as early as age 62, but doing so will permanently reduce your monthly benefit. Conversely, delaying your claim past your full retirement age (FRA) increases your benefit by 8% per year until age 70.

Full Retirement Age vs. Early vs. Delayed Benefits

  • Full Retirement Age (FRA): Your FRA is based on your birth year. For those born between 1943 and 1954, it’s 66. For those born in 1960 or later, it’s 67.
  • Early Benefits: Claiming at age 62 reduces your monthly benefit by about 25-30%.
  • Delayed Benefits: Each year you delay past your FRA increases your benefit by 8%, up to age 70.

Secure Strategies to Maximize Benefits

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3 Reasons to Prioritize Income Over Assets

3 Reasons to Focus on Income over Assets in Retirement Planning

Why is Income More Important than Assets in Retirement Planning?

This question is crucial for retirees. After all, retirement can last for 30 years or more, and mistakes can lead to significant financial complications.

In previous discussions, we’ve highlighted how income planning differs from investment planning, particularly with its emphasis on generating monthly income. Unlike the working years, when accumulating assets and replenishing them with employment income is possible, retirement is a phase of “distribution,” where we rely on our nest egg for income. Seniors don’t have the luxury of replenishing their savings through employment. For this reason, among others, focusing on retirement income is paramount.

Here’s why income should take precedence over assets in retirement planning and why this approach might benefit your planning strategy.

1. Income Ensures a More Efficient Planning Framework

Income, as it pertains to cash flow, allows for more efficient financial planning. While income is a well-understood component of retirement finances, cash flow management is equally crucial. Cash flow management involves using income streams to cover retirement expenses. This includes:

  • Diverse Income Sources: Retirement plan distributions, Social Security benefits, guaranteed pension payments, annuity payouts, and part-time employment income.
  • Income Timing: Effectively managing when money is received from various income sources and using it to pay bills and expenses punctually.
  • Expense Management: Ensuring adequate funds for various retirement expenses, including fixed monthly costs, discretionary spending like vacations, and unexpected emergencies.

By relating income to expenses, focusing on monthly income can enhance planning efficiency. Nobel laureate Robert C. Merton points out that in the current retirement planning landscape, where many depend on 401(k)s and other defined-contribution plans, decision-making is often influenced by behavioral biases.
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5 Steps to Building an Effective Retirement Plan

5 Steps to Building an Effective Retirement Plan

As we approach retirement, we face many decisions. Many of these decision-points revolve around future financial life. Retirement income planning – or creating a plan to cover expenses and retirement uncertainty – is an essential step.

But everyone has different income needs, and they vary in their readiness for retirement. Plus today’s retirement landscape is far different than what our parents and grandparents dealt with. In the past, a steady pension from an employer, dependable income from Social Security, and a small fund of retirement savings was standard fare. Now those days are largely a distant memory for most Americans. Read More

Retirement for the Self-Employed

Taking the Hassle Out of the Holidays

In the past, we’ve talked about the importance of being prepared for retirement. Of course preparation is different for everyone. For one, women will have different retirement needs and goals than men.

It also depends on what employment capacity you’re in. If you’re employed by a large company, for instance, you may have a retirement pension plan via your employer (though these sorts of perks from employers are disappearing). But what about planning for retirement if you’re self-employed?

According to various data sources, there are roughly 10 million self-employed Americans – from business owners and independent contributors to freelancing professionals. In a recent TD Ameritrade survey, around 55% reported they’re behind on retirement savings. On the whole, baby boomers have an average windfall of being $335,000 down from their retirement savings objective. Read More

The Importance of Keeping Your Retirement Plan “Safe Money First” Simple!

Taking the Hassle Out of the Holidays

Today’s economic conditions remain uncertain, and it ‘s having a tremendous impact on how Americans foresee the future. In a nationwide public opinion report from the National Institute on Retirement Security, many Americans were found to be anxious about their retirement. Among those surveyed, 86 percent indicated they believe America is facing a looming retirement crisis. And in addition, 75 percent said they are concerned about their capability for achieving a secure retirement.

Given present circumstances, it’s easy to understand these fears. Many people worry about whether they will have enough money in their retirement years. It could be for paying medical expenses, maintaining a certain lifestyle, or covering costs of daily living. Much of the retiree community is thinking about how much money they will be able to leave to their loved ones, as well. Read More

Next Steps to Consider

  • Start a Conversation About Your Retirement What-Ifs

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    Start a Conversation About Your Retirement What-Ifs

    Already working with someone or thinking about getting help? Ask us about what is on your mind. Learn More

  • What Independent Guidance
    Does for You

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    What Independent Guidance
    Does for You

    See how the crucial differences between independent and captive financial professionals add up. Learn More

  • Stories from Others
    Just Like You

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    Stories from Others
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    Hear from others who had financial challenges, were looking for answers, and how we helped them find solutions. Learn More

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