7 Tips to a Financially Secure Retirement

If you haven’t retired already, at some point you’ll probably want to. Financial security in retirement doesn’t just happen. It takes planning, commitment and money. You’ll need enough money to potentially live on for at least 20 years, probably more. With the average life expectancy in the U.S. at nearly 80 and growing (1), you’ll want to be sure you can maintain the lifestyle you envision throughout your retirement years.

To help you focus on what you should be doing to succeed, here are 7 planning tips:

1. Make Saving a Habit

If you are already saving every month, awesome! Keep going! If you’re not, start now. The sooner you start the more time your money has to grow.

2. Know Your Retirement Expenses

This is much easier to do the closer you get to retirement. A twenty or thirty year old may have no idea what those numbers will eventually be. If that is you, concentrate more on the other tips. For those of you with retirement in your sightline, figure you will need AT LEAST 70% of your pre-retirement income to live comfortably. Knowing what you need is the key to getting what you need. The key to a secure retirement is to have a clearly defined goal.

3. Participate in your 401(k) or 403(b)

If your employer offers a 401(k) plan or 403(b) plan sign up and aim to contribute to the maximum. Over time, compound interest and tax deferrals can make a huge difference in the amount you accumulate for retirement.

4. Invest Wisely

Diversify your savings to reduce risk (i.e. don’t put it all on black!). In a nutshell, risk simply means how much money could you potentially lose with your investments. To check your current tolerance for risk use our free tool. It will give you something called your Risk Number™ which is a great starting place to see how much risk you can emotionally handle. You can then compare that to the Risk Number™ of your current portfolio and see if they match up or if you potentially need to make changes. Keep in mind, your investment mix may need to change over time due to age, goals, and circumstances, so it’s always a good idea to monitor your risk tolerance and portfolio allocation. Remember, financial knowledge and financial security go hand in hand.

5. Check Your Social Security Benefits

Social Security benefits provide supplemental income to you and your spouse during retirement. If you are counting on social security to bail you out, think again. Social Security provides enough for you to live around the poverty line. Check the Social Security website to see how much the government will pay you every month.

6. Ask Questions

The more you know, the better your chances of enjoying financial security in your retirement years. Talk with your accountant or financial advisor. Better yet, book a meeting with me right now! Ask questions and get good advice. Build a plan, and stick with it.

7. Make Planning for Your Retirement a Priority

Use our retirement check-up tool to find out if you are on the right track. It’s never too early or too late to start saving for your future. However, the longer you wait or leave things to chance, the less likely you will live a financially secure retirement.

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” -Alan Lakein

If you know anyone that could benefit from this advice, feel free to share this video with them. Good luck on your journey toward a financially secure retirement.

For more financial planning tips, download my free report: “8 Steps to Organize and Optimize Your Financial Life”. Thanks for reading!

Your Health & Your Wealth: The 1 Thing That Will Improve Your Golf Game

This is a guest post by John Praino, Co-Owner of Training for Warriors Mahopac

Spring is finally upon us!

Spring is a time for new beginnings, new flowers start to grow, trees begin to fill with leaves and people start to take part in outdoor activities. One of those popular activities is golf!

How did your golf season go last year?  Did you get better or was it an inconsistent mess?

Are you going to have a new fresh start to your golf season?

Are you Golf Ready?

I figured out how you can get Golf Ready and have a more consistent and successful golf season!

Golfers often seek to improve their game by buying new equipment, playing more golf, or taking lessons. Although these are some possible solutions, there are many times our golf game is not a reflection of our skill as a golfer or the equipment we use. It is actually a reflection of our body’s physical limitations.

How can someone expect to drive the ball further or have a consistent swing when his or her body lacks the proper foundation to swing the club and play the game?

My Approach to Being a Better Golfer:

When Tiger Woods debuted in 1996, a component to the game rarely talked about emerged: physical conditioning for your golf game.

Since then, the idea of working out to become a better golfer was something that became common.

My question is, how do we work-out and what parts of the body do we train to play better golf? What exercises and muscle groups help the golf swing? Can certain exercises and muscle groups hinder the golf swing? Is there a different routine for different types of golfers?

My answer.

No

In my opinion the average golfer doesn’t need to be focusing on accute muscles and movements via sport-specific, complicated exercises.

You want to be a better golfer?

Get stronger. The end

Recreational golfers don’t need to complicate things.  You simply need a workout routine that incorporates the right kind of strength training and flexibility exercises that will give you that extra edge to stay in golf shape year-round.

If I’m being specific, rotational power is the key to improved golf performance. To hit a golf ball with power and accuracy, you need to strengthen the muscles used to putt, drive, and swing. The keys would be to strengthen your legs, abdominals, hips, back, arms.

Here’s a good idea…

Strengthen your ENTIRE body. Just get in better shape!

For golfers, I emphasize a full-body approach developing strength of both bones and muscles, which can of course come from a comprehensive weight lifting program.

The bottom line is this: By developing stronger muscles and bones throughout your entire body, you will increase fitness and play better. A simple, safe and short routine will accomplish this task.

Strength Training:

When you start a strength training program you are adding resistance to your body (muscles, tendons, joints and bones) in the process making them stronger.

Strength training has many benefits.  For instance, if you suffer from low back pain like so many golfers do, strengthening the hips, core and low back will help reduce the pain that you get as you go through the course. You can accomplish this with simple exercises like squats, deadlifts, pushups, planks, weighted carries, sit-ups crunches and various other core exercises.

Here are some other key reasons why focusing on strength will improve your golf game:

  • Better Balance
  • More Strength
  • Boosts confidence
  • Decrease body fat levels
  • Reduce incidence of Injury
  • Positive effect on bone density
  • Better sleep: exercise enables a better sleep pattern to develop
  • Decreased stress: you are doing something for YOURSELF
  • Range of motion and flexibility increases

Strength Training Misconceptions:

Unfortunately, golfers have traditionally avoided weight training for muscle strengthening and injury prevention.

Many feared that it would reduce their joint flexibility and decrease their club speed.

These assumptions are completely untrue.

Let me just debunk a MYTH that I hear all the time from most athletes that play Baseball (FYI I played baseball in HS, College and Semi-Pro).

When they inquire about strength training here’s the question:

“I need to stay loose to be able to swing and throw, I don’t want to be muscle bound, doesn’t working out with weights make you tight”?

THE ANSWER IS NO!! It takes a whole lot of dedication nutritionally and in the weight room to put on muscle and get totally jacked up. If you follow a comprehensive strength program that includes flexibility and mobility the end result will be a leaner, stronger, more flexible, better golfer.  Would you sign up for that?

How You Should Get Started:

If you’ve never lifted weights or it’s been a long time since you’ve lifted weights don’t let that stop you, if you find a qualified coach (like the one’s here at Training for Warriors Mahopac) they should explain each exercise, progress you through the workout and build your confidence.

  • The basics of setting up a program:

    • Start slowly. This will decrease your chance of injury and soreness.
    • Start with single sets and work your way up to multiple sets.
    • Use the correct weight amount.  Using too much weight will increase your chance of injury because your form will suffer. However if you’re not using enough weight your muscles will not be challenged and you won’t experience the desired benefits of weight training.
    • Give your muscles time to rest and recovery.  You should wait at least 24 – 48 hours before you train the same muscle group once again.

 

  • Weight training doesn’t have to be boring

    Switching up your routine monthly is the perfect way to receive strength gains and to decrease boredom. Keep your routine interesting by using the machines, free weights, bars, bands, kettle bells, med balls and even your own body weight.

 

My best advice if you want to have a better season is not to complicate things. Get started on a solid program now and have fun out driving all of your buddies!

How To Pay For College: 6 Smart Tips

It’s no secret that college is expensive. In fact, many colleges now cost over $50,000 a year when you include tuition, room and board, and other expenses. Now, we all want the best for our kids but how exactly can the average person afford to pay over $200,000 for a 4 year degree? The key is to start saving early and know your funding options. Here are 6 smart tips to help you pay for that dream college:

1. Use a 529 Plan

529 Plans are a great way to save for college. The contributions grow tax deferred and withdrawals are tax free if used for education expenses. For New York State residents looking to open a 529 Plan check out New York State’s 529 College Savings Program.

2. Apply for financial aid

Once you have kids attending college, always fill out the Free Application for Student Federal Aid (FAFSA), even if you don’t think you’ll qualify. There are government backed low interest loans that many parents use to defer tuition costs. The deadline for submitting the FAFSA is June 31st but you’ll want to get it in as early as possible to ensure you don’t miss out on any available aid.

3. Seek national grants

Here are some options:

4. Apply to several schools

To increase your chances of getting financial aid, make sure your child applies to several schools. The more schools they are accepted to, the more chances they will have to receive financial aid.

5. Service in exchange for tuition

These organizations offer college money in exchange for a service commitment after graduation:

6. Live at home & go to community college

Don’t rule out living at home and going to a community college for the first 2 years, then transfer to a 4 year college or university for the final 2 years. You’ll save money on tuition and room and board. This is a super smart strategy and one that many more people should consider taking advantage of. The cost of community college is much less than you’d pay at a 4 year college. If you transfer to that 4 year college in year 3 and graduate you’ll still end up with the same degree but for a fraction of the cost.

No doubt college is expensive, however the benefits for your child to attend college are quite compelling.

Video:

For more financial planning tips, download my free report: “8 Steps to Organize and Optimize Your Financial Life”. Thanks for reading!

 

3 Important Financial Tasks To Do in April

#1 Finish Your Taxes

For 2016 the deadline to submit your tax return is April 18th. The reason for this is that typically Washington, D.C. celebrates Emancipation Day on April 16th, the day President Abraham Lincoln signed into law a bill ending slavery in Washington, D.C. This year, however, the 16th falls on Saturday, so Emancipation day is being celebrated on April 15th and the tax filing deadline is pushed to April 18th.

Nevertheless, by April you should have your tax return completed. If not, and you can’t make the deadline for filing, April 18th is also the deadline for filing a six month extension Just keep in mind, if you owe money you will still need to pay your taxes by April 18th even if you file for an extension.

#2 Update Your W-4 Withholding

Once you’ve completed your tax return you may need to update your withholding allowance on your W-4. What’s your withholding allowance? According to Investopedia it is “the employee-claimed exemptions on the tax form W-4 that employers use to determine how much of an employee’s pay to subtract from his or her paycheck to remit to the tax authorities 1.” The more allowances you claim, the less income tax will be withheld from your paycheck.

How do you know if you need to update your withholding allowances? Well, are you getting money back? Do you owe any money? Either way if those are large numbers you should consider changing the number of allowances you are claiming on your W-4. Speak to your tax preparer to help you figure out what changes you should make.

#3 Spring Cleaning

It’s great that Spring and Taxes go hand in hand because it gives you the opportunity to purge once you’ve completed your return. You’ll want to shred documents you no longer need and file those you do. Better yet, start using an online filing system like FileThis to help you automatically aggregate all your electronic documents. This way you don’t have to deal with paper at all!

Wondering how long you need to keep your documents? Here’s the basic rule: Keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. For more details on how long to keep your documents, read this post on the IRS website.

For more financial planning tips, download my free report: “8 Steps to Organize and Optimize Your Financial Life”. Thanks for reading!