Julie Jason's Your Money: New book outlines the groundwork necessary for retirementBy JULIE JASON October 06. 2017 9:42PM
My new book, "The Retirement Survival Guide," is now available. An earlier edition was recognized as a top 10 business book by Booklist (the American Library Association) and received the EIFLE award for Excellence in Financial Literacy Education. The new release speaks to all ages, including millennials, and updates market data and regulatory, tax and Social Security changes.
If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that retirement security is a cause of mine. Through my writing and speaking, I reach out to audiences of all financial means. In my investment counsel practice, I focus on structuring and managing lifelong portfolios for families of substantial means. The practice supports my financial literacy efforts.
Retirement security is an issue for a broad portion of the population, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. One out of two "working-age" households are at risk of being unable to maintain their standard of living in retirement, according to a 2017 center report: "Do Households Have a Good Sense of Their Retirement Preparedness?"
There are a number of reasons, one of which is skill-based. Since pensions have declined in number, everyone needs to learn the skill of making sound savings and investment decisions.
That's what "The Retirement Survival Guide" is for - helping individuals of all ages and financial circumstances to lay the groundwork necessary for good decision-making for a lifelong endeavor: retirement security.
Here is a quick road map:
1) Know your cash flow: When you approach retirement, you'll need to know how much money is coming into the household and how much is leaving. The best way to learn how to arrive at this cash flow is to pretend you are going to retire on Monday. Then figure out how long your retirement will last before you have to go back to work. This exercise will help you understand how to calculate your outflow (expenses) and compare it with your inflow (pension, Social Security and income from savings/investments). Part I of the book covers cash flow and Social Security, updated for 2017.
2) Look for small ways to improve your situation: If you don't have enough saved, don't be discouraged. Even an extra $100 per month invested over a long period of time in a plain-vanilla S&P 500 index fund can make a huge difference in retirement security. Chapter 6 ("Can you improve your situation?") goes through ways to save even when you think it's a lost cause.
3) Do your homework: In today's low-interest-rate environment, people are drawn to higher-yielding - and therefore more risky - investments. To avoid misunderstandings, before buying anything at all, be sure to confirm what you are being offered. Each chapter of Part II of the book reviews different retirement income products, rates them and sets out a series of questions to ask before making the decision to buy.
4) Don't be a victim: Incredibly, according to a FINRA Investor Education Foundation survey, 80 percent of adults ages 40 and older are exposed to financial scams, and older adults (age 65 and older) are "particularly vulnerable." Chapter 19 lays out my "don't-be-fooled rules."
5) Know your numbers: Are you ready to retire? How do you know if you've saved enough? Do you have an income gap? How will you account for taxes and inflation? How much can you safely withdraw from your investments? The Step-by-Step Retirement-Readiness Test in Chapter 21 is a good place to start.
Above all, know that achieving financial security is all about you. It's about understanding yourself, your needs, your limitations and your goals, and planning for the future.
My message to readers is simple and direct: No matter what your situation, there is always room for improvement.
If you would like a copy of the introduction to the book, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm happy to send it to you.
Julie Jason, JD, LLM, a personal money manager at Jackson, Grant of Stamford, Conn., and award-winning author, welcomes questions and comments to email@example.com.