Social Security

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!

Best Personal Finance Books of 2015

I often get asked for book recommendations, so I thought now would be a great time to pass along my favorite personal finance books of 2015. I’ve broken down my list into a few categories so you can find one right for you, but, truthfully, all of these are fascinating reads. As you’ll see, my favorites are those that manage to take complicated financial topics and explain them in an easy, approachable way.


Best for Parents:
The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money.
by Ron Lieber

This was actually my personal favorite, probably because, being a parent, it had the most direct impact on my life. Any parent today can attest to how difficult it is to make our kids understand and appreciate all they have. Stuff is so easy to acquire these days that they often take for granted all they have. Lieber outlines many strategies for dealing with this modern parenting issue, however, his take on allowance was the most intriguing to me. The premise is in order to teach our kids about the value of money, give them a weekly allowance not tied to chores. The theory is if you want to teach your kids how to budget, save and value their money, give them a weekly allowance. If you are trying to teach your kids about discipline and the value of hard work then focus on their studies, extra curricular activities and sports programs. I had my doubts, but figured I it was worth testing out since my previous attempts at giving allowances to my 6 and 9 year olds fizzled out after a short period of time. Surprisingly, it worked for us. I started giving my boys $5 a week in April. My youngest son initially spent the money as soon as he got it. My oldest son decided he would save his money to buy a new Wii. Between his allowance, birthday gifts, and various holidays he accomplished that goal quicker than my wife and I expected. The deal is they can use the money for whatever they want. Toys, apps, video games, books, whatever, it’s their money. My youngest soon learned the value of saving and stopped spending his cash so quickly. The bonus for my wife and I was that the kids stopped asking for stuff all the time. After 4-6 months they realized they could get whatever they had enough money for (and mom and dad approved of). If they don’t have enough money they now know they need to save. What they haven’t totally figured out yet is that they could make more money if they started doing some work around the house! The author suggests paying the kids for tasks you might pay someone else for. I got my youngest son to do some weeding in the summer but so far I haven’t had much additional success. I’m not saying this will work for everyone but both my wife and I were very surprised at how quickly the kids learned to budget, save and learn the value of a dollar. Definitely worth a read.

Best For Planning:
The One-Page Financial Plan: A Simple Way to Be Smart About Your Money
by Carl Richards

I believe everyone should have a financial plan. The problem is if you don’t know where to start, are just beginning your career, or you are not working with a Certified Financial Planner, you probably haven’t created one. This book outlines how to focus on the big picture and create a simple, workable financial plan. It clears away all the noise that distracts most people from creating a plan and helps you stick to the important stuff and get you headed in the right direction.

Best For Everyone:
Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending
by Elizabeth Dunn, Michael Norton

This is my second favorite book I read in 2015. Even though it was actually published in 2013 I kept in on my list because of how good it is. The idea behind it is that money CAN actually buy happiness… if you use it wisely. Their research revealed some fascinating things like luxury cars often do not provide more pleasure than economy cars, and that spending your money on experiences will give you more happiness bang for your buck than buying stuff. No doubt, after reading this book you will question where you are currently spending your money and if you are getting the most happiness you can out of those purchases.

Best For Pre-Retirees:
Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security
by Laurence J. Kotlikoff

Alright, admittedly this is the least exciting book on the list. I mean, who really wants to read a book about Social Security during their free time? Nevertheless, Social Security can be an incredibly confusing maze of options. Knowing which claiming strategy is best for your situation can be overwhelmingly difficult for most people without enlisting help. Choosing the wrong strategy can cost you tens of thousands of dollars over your lifetime. This book explains the options in plain english and uses real world examples to help it make sense. I strongly recommend this book for anyone trying to decide when to start claiming social security. One caveat, with file and suspend having recently been eliminated, some of the advice is no longer relevant.

Want some great financial planning tips? Download my free report: 8 Steps to Organize & Optimize Your Financial Life. It’s packed with helpful advice, useful tips and valuable resources.

To learn what I can do for you visit