TRANSPORT NEEDED for Shepherd dog currently living under a porch and unable to see the vet

For many, nearing retirement age can get frustrating and confusing. Many fail to properly get their finances in order to be able to enjoy retired life and thus, frustration takes root and tolls heavily on the person. being forty-five or fifty-five, very few people are satisfied with what they have saved for their retirement days. The list of regrets may not end there. Without getting an early start, many things can go wrong. Those that well into their forties and fifties are bound to lag behind. So, here are some practical and simple steps to getting really into retirement planning if you're a professional, business owner or just someone who cares about the future!

Firstly, the lessons of life are learned by personal experience or by the experience of others. Smart people learn from the latter in order to never experience bad situations after retirement. The very first lesson to learn about retirement planning is to start saving sooner rather than later. It's not complicated and it doesn't require you to be a finance guru either. With some willpower, guidelines, and knowledge, planning your retirement can be easy, convenient and above all, blissful.


Every paycheck should have about fifteen percent invested into retirement. It can be a savings account or a small side business that, if managed properly, can become something to rely on later on. Retirement saving goals are great but enjoying less of your income today would enable you to afford expenses tomorrow! Forget about your employer's retirement plan, your own gross income must have this percent stashed away in any form for the golden years ahead.

Recognize Spending Requirements

Being realistic about post-retirement expenditures will drastically help in acquiring a truer picture of what kind of retirement portfolio to adopt. For instance, most people would argue that their expenses after retirement would amount to seventy or eighty percent of what have been spending previously. Assumptions can prove untrue or unrealistic especially if mortgages have not been paid off or if medical emergencies occur. So, to better manage retirement plans, it's vital to have a firm understanding of what to expect, expense-wise!

Don't Keep All the Eggs in One Basket

This is the single biggest risk to take that there is for a retiree. Putting all money into one place can be disastrous for obvious reasons and it's almost never recommended, for instance, in single stock investments. If it hits, it hits. If it doesn't, it may never be back. However, mutual funds in large and easily recognizable new brands may be worth if potential growth or aggressive growth, growth, and income is seen. Smart investment is key here.

Stick to the Plan

Nothing is risk-free. Mutual funds or stocks, everything has its ups and downs so it will have ups and downs. But when you leave it and add more to it, it's bound to grow in the long term. After the 2008-09 stock market crash, studies have shown that the retirement plans in the workplace were balanced with an average set of above two-hundred thousand. The grown by average annual rate was fifteen percent between 2004 and 2014.

There are a number of things that make a person break into a cold sweat, but perhaps one of the more underrated ways to cause stress is thinking about planning for the future with an emphasis on retirement planning. It seems odd that planning for the amount of money you have for future use would cause so much havoc simply because we tend to be big fans of money. Still, there seems to be a negative cloud that surrounds all that is planning for retirement.

Perhaps it's because it reminds us of an end to things as we know them. Sure, it's only the end of our working life, but many of us identify ourselves by the careers we establish. When you're no longer working, how does that ultimately affect the way you identify yourself? Big questions to be sure, but it also reminds us that we're getting older & looking at our mortality head-on.

Regardless of the reasons why we put off planning for retirement, it's important to make a plan early. While it may seem as though there is a big process involved, it's as simple as choosing to start planning. After this step, here are three more simple ways to get the retirement planning process moving forward:

1. Set Goals - When it comes to retirement, we always hope to relax and have a nice time doing nothing. Even with nothing pressing, though, we want to do something cool like travel or dive into a hobby. One easy way to start a retirement plan is to lay out the type of goals you'd like to accomplish. Whether they seem a little extravagant or not isn't an issue. A goal is a goal, and so long as it's important to you & your family, list it.

2. Create A Working Budget - Though this seems to be a step most people in debt take, it is a step that even a careful retirement planner should take to help get their finances in better order. Sit down & establish your monthly expenses. Establish what your take-home pay is per month and see where the numbers fall. If you're spending more than you're making, you need to figure out the best way to shed unnecessary spending. If you're "in the black", the extra money should be used to begin establishing your retirement account.

3. Be Mindful of Extra Money - If you have money that comes to you in the way of a work bonus or raise, just don't spend it. Literally, put that extra money into a retirement fund. You were operating before on the money being brought into your home, so it means you can still operate the same way. Any extra money should be seen as money that's just out of your reach & untouchable.

Obviously, retirement planning is more complicated than what's outlined here. Still, these are three very simple steps to start the process, and simply starting to plan for retirement is a step in the right direction.

Need help with retirement planning?


Dallas to San Antonio OR Houston to San Antonio

Can anyone help?? She’s currently living under a porch and unable to see the vet due to lack of funds

Fidonation, if you or someone you know can help, please contact Jennifer Quesenberry Aufdenberg.

Additionally, please share this story on Facebook or Twitter so we are closer to help her. We have done it before, and can certainly do it again.

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Once you've completed Level I (Tackle Bad Debt) in the game of Financial Freedom, it's on to Level II - Retirement Planning. There's a lot to consider when successfully setting up your retirement plan. In this level, we will just cover the accumulation portion of retirement planning, not the distribution phase (which happens when you retire). To set up the retirement plan, start with the Three main factors: determine your goals, the number of years remaining until your retirement and your tolerance for risks. The goal of this initial process is to set the average glide path for how contributions and appreciation will add up to enough money for you to convert into income at retirement.

When I started a retirement account, it was 1998 and I think Roth IRAs had just been established. So, I went through the whole process with a financial advisor, who was also my neighbor. I wanted to retire when I was 65, I wanted $3 million and I had a high tolerance for risk. I had always assumed that a high level of risk was required for any chance of a big reward. I don't think that way anymore! When the "dot com" bubble burst in 2000, I had a new feeling about my "high-risk tolerance." After paying all the brokerage fees, I think I lost about 50% of my investment that year. Because of that loss, I was forced reevaluate what having a high-risk tolerance meant. I've since learned you don't need to take on high risk to make good, consistent returns. In fact, it's probably better not to.

A lot of people don't seem to get satisfactory answers as to the point of those 3 planning questions. So, I'll say the main point of identifying your goal, time horizon, and risk tolerance is to set your portfolio's asset allocation. Your asset allocation is the mix of various asset classes (like stock, bonds and real estate) that you will target, in percentage terms. Higher risk tolerances allow for a higher volatility. Since stocks are more volatile than real estate and bonds, a higher risk tolerance would set up a portfolio with a higher percentage of stocks. Lower risk tolerances look to reduce volatility, and therefore, target more fixed income in the asset allocation.

How does asset allocation work? It works in two ways. One way is diversification. Because asset classes react differently to the changing environment, diversification, over time, produces better results with less volatility. Why is that? All investments are affected by 4 main factors:
1) commodity prices as input prices, specifically oil,
2) interest rates as the cost of borrowing,
3) inflation (or deflation) as a combination of Federal policy, monetary policy and general pricing, and finally,
4) the economy, in terms of growth (corporate and economic).

Investments are affected by the nominal numbers for each of these 4 factors as well as the rate of change. For example, you can have low interest rates, but if those interest rates suddenly start to rise quickly, then the market will start to discount that change. Rate of change can greatly affect market pricing and volatility. Remember, the end goal is that the market is a future discount of profits, and any big change in any of these four areas will greatly affect the calculus.

The second way that asset allocation works is through "re-balancing." Re-balancing allows for a systematic process of buying low and selling high. Re-balancing your assets at set points throughout the year, say twice per year, allows you to sell the asset classes that have grown larger than their target allocation percentage and buy asset classes that have drifted below their target asset allocation. This provides for a process that automatically and systematically buys low and sells high.

Now, why are we talking about this at Level II - Setting up Retirement? It's because I recommend you find a service that can do all this for you as cheaply as possible. I recommend looking at the "robo-advisors" - WealthFront, Betterment or Personal Capital. These companies walk you through the planning questions, set a risk tolerance number from 1.0-10.0 and then set up an asset mix based on your profile. They allow you to set up automatic contributions and they will handle re-balancing on a set schedule. The important point is to have all this inside an automated system so you don't even have to think about it. You can also directly buy the index ETFs, free of a trading charge, inside a brokerage like TDAmeritrade. They offer 100 free index ETFs. Keep in mind, though, that ETFs are not as automated as the robo-advisors. I would start with a robo-advisor account and then optimize and improve upon it later as you start getting better at the skills of investing.

So, to achieve Level II, you need to set up a retirement account and automatically contribute 10% of your income. I would generally stay away from company 401k plans, unless they provide a match. If they provide a match, then it's free money and you can start Level II by setting up your 401k, but only to the amount the company will match. Why? Because 401k plans have many hidden fees and are quite expensive to manage. Most of the people getting rich in 401k-land are the providers, not the participants.

Additionally, how do you know you're on track to retirement? I would use these very general statements. You want "four figures" in your 20's so that some day in your 30's you can achieve "five figures." And you do that so you can get "six figures" some time in your 40's. If you do that, you're looking to get to "seven figures" some time in your 50's. And if you want extra-credit, then you achieve "eight figures" some time in your 60's or 70's. If you're 27 and you have $4,000 in your retirement account, you're on track. If you're 38 and you have $55,000 in your retirement account, you're generally on track. If you're 44 and you have $145,000 in your retirement, then you're on track.

The main point here is that you need to have a portfolio of "four figures" before you have a portfolio of "five figures" and so on. And, that a retirement portfolio will use the power of compound interest and a long time horizon to generate large returns. This is a very general rule that does not apply to all. Also, this doesn't allow for someone to skip the "goals" section of building a risk and investment profile. It should be used as a very general rule of thumb. I'll give another rule of thumb in subsequent articles. For now, I hope you've found this point somewhat helpful and enlightening for how to win at Level II of the game of Financial Freedom - setting up a retirement account and investing process.

So, are you ready to complete Level II - Setting up a Retirement account and save 10 percent per year? You could do the whole Level II in one step - setting up a Wealthfront account and have automatic monthly contribution set up into a traditional or Roth IRA. OR, you could set up your 401k at your company, as long as they have a generous matching policy. OR, you could set up a TDAmeritrade account, set up monthly automatic contribution and invest using their free indexed ETFs. All of these approaches get you on your retirement investing track. You can improve upon it later. The goal is to just start and then make the management of it automatic.

Retirement is a tricky thing, one day you feel good about it as you will be relaxing, finally, and the other day you feel worried about your finances. But people who plan for their retirement beforehand may have little or nothing to worry.

Retirement planning is a continuous process, and you would have to try to foresee things. Although, no one can predict everything and it will be better to try to be close enough can do some benefit.

Many people are too scared to retire because they are worried about how things will go when they cut that income off. However, retirement planning is not a hard science and following these 7 steps may let you secure future.

1. Retirement Planning - Assess your financial situation

First of all, make an inventory of all your current assets, liabilities, incomes and expenses. You can sit with your retirement planner and make an estimate of what your responsibilities and expenses would be. When you've retired, some expenses may stay the same, like groceries and insurance, and others.

However, some expenses may increase like travel cost, vacation costs, and spending less on growing-up kids. Some expenses would also be taken care of by pension and social security. Highlight your worries and questions that haunt you at night and discuss them with your planner.

2. Calculate the value of your assets and Liabilities

Here are a few tips on how to calculate the value of your current assets.

Write down the current amount in each of your account where you keep cash and liquid savings. These include checking, savings and money market accounts and certificates of deposits.
If you have saving bonds, then calculate and determine the current value or call the bank to find out the current value.
Call your agent and find out the cost of your whole life policy also.
Invested in stocks, bonds or mutual funds, then check the value on financial websites or from your last statement.
Use the current value of your house and other real states.
List the current value of your pension, IRAs, or other retirement plans you have in mind. Try to know the value if you decide to get them cashed today.
Keep other assets such as business and rental property in mind too.
The balance of the mortgage on your house is a monthly liability.
Keep all other mortgages or home equity loans in mind as well.
Record the balance due on credit cards, installments, loan, and investment accounts.
List all the current and over-due bills you owe. These include utility bills, doctors, dentists, telephone, water, gas, property tax, etc.
3. Know what you want

We all want so much that we confuse ourselves with so many things. Make up the list of the things you think must be in your lifestyle after your retirement. Consider everything that may even seem small to you so that you would be prepared for it.

Are you aware of how much money would you need to retire and live comfortably?

Well, research says that you need to replace 70-90 percent of your pre-retirement income. It helps you to estimate your target based on your current income. Although it is a rough estimate, and keeping this in mind allows you to be on track. Maintaining factors such as vacation habits, medical expenses, house rent will have a substantial impact on how much you need to save.

If you can save a right amount of money for retirement, then you will also have options for living the kind of life you want. Proper retirement planning lets you overcome any barriers and constraints, and add to the leisure of golden retirement period. You might even also have enough to leave something for your next generation. Don't be scared to aim high!

4. Cash Flow Planning

Present value is significant for your retirement planning. It is the amount of money you need in your account today to plan and save for your future. Many people work with their financial advisors or their retirement planners and make individual retirement accounts to prepare for their retirement. You can do so while planning before and after retirement.

Planning Before Retirement

It is almost impossible to start any retirement planning without budgeting. Your budget is an essential part of your cash flow planning for both before and during retirement. It is an essential analysis that one should necessarily do to determine how much cash is needed to maintain the lifestyle you and your family is used to living.

Once your budget is in place, it should be reviewed annually to determine if the addition and subtractions are changing the planned budget or if any other adjustments are needed. A budget will also help to protect your long-term and retirement savings.

Emergency Fund
Let's face it, unexpected financial problems can arise anytime, and it's not easy to avoid them too. So, it's always a good idea if we have some savings to help you in your inevitable needs.

Your emergency fund should be set aside in a liquid manner because you never know what time or situation you might need those. The total amount needs to be decided by you and your family, and it should be at your comfort level. Some people might agree on having $10,000 or $20,000, whereas some people would want to put a higher amount for their emergency funds.

Risk Management
One area that is often overlooked in retirement planning is risk management. People usually focus on saving money for retirement. However, they forget to keep risk management in their minds. Risk management includes car insurance, house insurance, short-term and long-term disability, and health insurance. You need to make policies regarding these and should be monitored, reviewed and updated as needed.

Planning During Retirement

During retirement, your plan should again start with budgeting. Your income will be changing after retirement, so it is essential to monitor your cash flow through-out retirement.

Budgeting after retirement does not only mean to keep a check on the flow of cash. In fact, it also involves analyzing all your expenses throughout the year. It lets you identify places where you can use other or less expensive substitutes or how to plan a significant expenditure.

Tax planning is a massive ordeal for some retired people. It takes up a lot of planning regarding analyzing the sources of funds. It allows you to maintain your lifestyle and hence you need to keep your tax consequences in mind.

Different types of accounts have different types of tax consequences when funded or get withdrawn. Retirement savings or qualified accounts are taxed as ordinary income level. Non-qualified accounts are taxed with capital gains levels.

When specific funds are needed to maintain a lifestyle during retirement, it is essential to keep the tax consequences of the accounts funding your retirement.

Taxes should not be the only consideration when making your retirement planning. Instead, it should be combined with other aspects of your overall financial planning.

Estate Planning
While necessary estate planning is a critical component before retirement, but post-retirement planning has a more important role in managing real estate. It is essential for you to determine what you and your family would like to settle for.

What is crucial is that the approach to estate planning should be similar to your attitude towards risk management. Your estate plan should be reviewed and updated regularly.

5. Invest or Save

It's entirely okay if you start late as well. The key to expecting success has a positive outlook and understanding that being late is better than never starting!

If you are over 55 years of age, the government offers savings on the catch -up contributions so you can get help to save a little bit more. Sometimes, the chances are that savings account and employee pensions are not enough to reach your goals. That's when you explore investment products.

It is always good to have an investment on your side if you are planning to upgrade your living standard and staying financially sound for long. There are many different ways to save your money, but IRA accounts have proven to be the best. If you do not know about it yet, then search the mighty internet for guidance.

Create a diversified portfolio of savings accounts, investments, stocks, bonds, property, and insurance that can all contribute to benefit you.

6. Make Strategies to Maximize Your Social Security Income

Social security is likely to remain an essential part of your retirement planning, and it is essential to maximize this benefit.

To maximize the benefits of social security, you need to sit with your retirement planner and make effective strategies for collecting social security. The age at which you decide to withdraw funds will also have an impact on your lifetime savings. You can start receiving from the age of 62. Moreover, the more you wait, the more you will be paid. If you wait till 70 years of age, your payment will increase up to 77%.

Another important thing that you should be aware of is if you're eligible for more than just your own retirement benefits! You might also be eligible to claim "spousal" or even "survivor" benefits, if you are married, divorced, or widowed. Although, these are based on your records with your spouse, whether they are dead or alive.

Remember not to file for two or more types of benefits at once. Chances are you will lose one of them if you file for both simultaneously. Make strategies to claim the smaller one first, and later on the larger one.

Social security uses the best 35 years of your working life to calculate your monthly earnings. If you have worked less than 35 years, you should keep working. As this will also help you to bump some of your lower earning years.

7. Check and Repeat

The most important thing to keep in mind while doing retirement planning is to focus on your savings. It needs to be updated and changed as needed. Review your retirement plan annually. Nothing is set in stone and with a strong and stable planning leads you to live a happy retirement life. All you need is to put yourself in a position to be successful and organized.

Retirement is a life transition process. Just like other major life transitions, retirement requires you to adapt and grow. It might involve some sad moments for you like leaving your workplace, workmates, moving houses, having ups and downs, being short on money, etc.

However, these grieve moments don't last forever! The efforts that you make before and during retirement to have a balanced life will help to ensure that your retirement is a smooth and pain-free process.

Although the act of retirement happens in a day, or a week. In fact, the retirement process is taking place over the years before your actual departure. Retirement cannot be successful overnight and it requires in-depth planning and preparation. Your retirement plan might even change at some points in life, depending on your interests, activities, and health fluctuations.

Trust yourself that you will adjust to retirement, relax and enjoy!

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