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Retirement Planning Blog

on 26 February, 2018

retirement planning expect unexpected

Scottish poet Robert Burns famously wrote, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” No doubt you likely have a plan for your retirement, even if you might not have a formal written financial plan.

You may know when you want to retire and what you’ll be doing afterwards with your newfound freedom. You may even have a roadmap to get you there.

Now imagine that a big hand reaches down from the sky, crumples up your roadmap, and tosses it aside. But wait, you protest! Too late, your circumstances have changed forever. While that sounds like a stretch, just being caught off-guard with your retirement plan would be less than pleasant, huh?

This is essentially what happened to half of the retirees in The Retirement Preparedness Study from Prudential Retirement. When surveyed, 51 percent said they retired earlier than planned. Sounds good, right? A chance to get to that retirement wish list sooner?

Not exactly. Only 23% retired earlier than planned because they wanted to, either because they had enough money to retire, wanted to retire, or were simply tired of working. Everyone else was dealt an unplanned event, either partially or fully out of their control:

  •  46 percent retired earlier than expected due to health problems
  • 30 percent were laid off from their jobs or offered an incentive package to retire early
  • 11 percent were forced to leave work to care for a loved one

For that 51 percent, their “best-laid plans” went awry, forcing them to adapt to a future they hadn’t foreseen.

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on 13 February, 2018

retirement mistakes high net worth investors part 2

Editor's Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part series on common retirement planning mistakes made by high net-worth investors and households. For more information on the retirement and financial challenges awaiting today's investors, request your personalized copy of The New Retirement Report. This resource spells out many of the risks awaiting you in retirement and potential solutions to address them.

In the first half of this two-part series we addressed key mistakes that can drain your wealth in retirement. From the high-ticket expenses of long-term care and healthcare to unaddressed asset protection or liability issues, there are many potential missteps. Here are a few more retirement mistakes to avoid.

Review them with your retirement planning professional or advisor to ensure your plan has strategies to address, or even avoid, these possible financial mishaps.

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in Annuity
on 22 February, 2018

fixed vs variable annuity

Fixed and variable annuities may be appealing for a number of reasons - especially guaranteed income. Yet many people find it hard to discern what may be good annuity options for them. And that's as their fear of running out of retirement money remains strong.

Americans are more afraid of running out of money in retirement than they are of dying, according to a well-quoted statistic from Allianz Life. Of 3,000 people surveyed, 63% said they feared not having enough retirement money for life over leaving this Earth. That was the highest percentage of those who mentioned their financial concerns in the survey. 

Fears like this are what drive Americans to look for dependable income-paying vehicles. When shopping around for income solutions, many investors find annuities to be of interest.

If you are considering an annuity for your portfolio, it's important to understand everything before you make a decision. Knowing what a fixed versus variable annuity is, will be a good starting point.

Let's look at some of those distinctions now.

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on 08 February, 2018

retirement mistakes by high net worth households

Editor's Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series on common retirement planning mistakes made by high net-worth investors and households. For more information on the retirement and financial challenges awaiting today's investors, please consider a review of The New Retirement Report. Many investors have found this resource useful for planning out for their financial futures.

With even more on the line than traditional retirees, high net-worth households need to be cautious of several all-too-common retirement mistakes that can cause a reversal of fortune.

Review these threats with your retirement planning professional or advisor to ensure your plan has strategies to address—and avoid—these potentially costly pitfalls.

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on 21 February, 2018

 retirement risks part 2

Editor's Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part series on retirement risks that we should definitely plan for. For more information on retirement money mishaps and how you can enjoy a comfortable retirement lifestyle, you may find helpful answers in The New Retirement Report

In the first half of this series, we discussed 5 of the 10 Retirement Risks you need to plan for. With apologies to the Late Night Show and Late Show, no Top 10 List would be complete with a stop at the halfway point. So, without further ado.... Here are 5 other retirement risks that retired and working-age investors should definitely heed.

As you read through this list, you may want to consider the strategies your plan has to manage these risks. If you are unsure or would like more confidence in your plan, a retirement-knowledgeable financial professional can help you. Their guidance can help identify potential financial gaps, clarify your needs, and solve for those shortcomings. 

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in Annuity
on 07 February, 2018

 impact of market slides on variable annuity investors

U.S. equity markets have taken investors on a wild roller-coaster ride over the last several days. Equities started free-falling after U.S. wage data released on Friday, Feb. 2, showed positive results. While economic news continues to be good, it raises the specter that the Fed will raise interest rates to ward off inflation. 

Higher interest rates would result in higher borrowing costs for companies and businesses. Not only that, it would become more expensive for consumers to buy cars and homes. 

It turned out that Friday’s drop was just the tipping point. The stock market went on a wild ride again on Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing down 1,175 points. This represented the worst point drop in history. And at one point Monday afternoon, the Dow was down 1,579 points, which was the largest intraday point drop in the history of the index.

If all this market anxiety had you reaching for the Dramamine, you aren't alone. Most people are invested in the market in one way or another. So, many households felt the sting, and it has only slightly abated as the market has begun to recover some of its losses.

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on 20 February, 2018

retirement risks

Editor's Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series on retirement risks that we should definitely plan for. For more information on potential retirement money mistakes and how you can enjoy a comfortable retirement lifestyle, you may find helpful answers in The New Retirement Report. You can find Part 2 of this series here

Top Ten Lists were a signature of David Letterman’s Late Night and Late Show legacies. Now that he’s 70, if Letterman were to prepare such a list today, it might look something like this: "The Top Ten Retirement Risks I Didn’t See Coming, But Should Have."

While three decades on TV may give Dave the aplomb to tackle top retirement risks with more leniency, this isn't the case for everybody. Not everyone can be blasé about what they face as they enter and move through retirement. To help you look ahead—and plan accordingly—we offer these Top Ten Retirement Risks You CAN See Coming.

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on 05 February, 2018

social security medicare filing deadlines importance

If you think choosing when to start claiming Social Security benefits can be confusing, you’re right. But did you know there is even more to consider when deciding when to start collecting those benefits?

If you are approaching or planning for retirement, you need a Medicare enrollment strategy that synchronizes with your Social Security claiming strategy in order to:

  • Reduce your risk of losing benefits,
  • Prevent you from incurring penalties, and
  • Maximize your benefits from both programs for the rest of your life.


Medicare and Social Security are programs that "talk to each other." Missed deadlines or poorly-timed benefit claims could mean as much as thousands of dollars of lost income. 

What we don't know can hurt us. So, here's a quick look at why you must verify deadlines and information for each program so everything is done right.

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on 15 February, 2018

 retirement income planning for couples

Over the years, you and your spouse have probably had many wonderful conversations about your retirement dreams. Maybe you talked about traveling to exotic destinations. Maybe you have always wanted to move closer to the grandkids. Or you might have dreamed of taking up those elusive hobbies neither of you had quite the time to pursue.

Of course, there are many things to discuss for retirement so you can prepare for a retirement lifestyle that you both find meaningful. One thing you may not have discussed, or agreed on, is how to harmonize your grand plans with your retirement income plan. Because not only will you need money to fund that retirement wish list… You will still need income to support your everyday needs, not to mention healthcare and other potentially costly unknowns.

What will those needs be? That seems to be where the disagreement begins. According to a Fidelity Investments Couples Retirement Study, almost half of the couples surveyed (47 percent) disagreed on how much they needed to save to maintain their current lifestyle in retirement.

One reason may be the small percentage of couples who have taken time to develop a detailed retirement income plan… just 21 percent, according to Fidelity.

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on 01 February, 2018

social security break even point age

When you begin claiming your Social Security benefits is one of the most important decisions you will make. Knowing when to start your benefits—and when not to—could mean thousands of more dollars to you, and your surviving spouse, when you could use the income the most.

But with so many claiming possibilities, when is the right time? 

You probably have heard arguments for claiming early and waiting. That being said, it pays off to understand the break-even ages for Social Security benefits, their impact, and how different claiming ages may compare.

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