PRIMETIME: Financial Freedom

Published 3:39 pm Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Many people find themselves in retirement between ages 55- and 65-years-old and have never done a financial planning, Jerri Compton, a financial advisor for Creative Financial Solutions, said.

She quotes the old adage, “Plan to fail.”

“Most of us are so busy living our lives day to day that we forget to plan for the future,” Compton said. “Then the future hits as the present and we are trying to make it month-to-month.”

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Compton said more seniors are retiring with debt than in the past because of credit and home equity, which are new products.

She said credit payments fluctuate at times making it difficult for seniors who are retired and live on fixed incomes.

Another issue seniors have is the misconception that it is too late to start saving.

“We can make excuses for every stage of our lives,” Compton said. “But, we keep putting things off and we enter our senior years and wish we would have planned for the future.”

In an article posted on the AARP Web site, “Myth Buster: Too Late to Save,” the author Mike Klesius said senior years approaching retirement could possibly be the years one can save the most money.

“As long as you continue earning taxable compensation from the company that sponsors your 401(k) plan and you meet any service requirements, you can continue contributing to the plan,” Klesius said. “And as long as you continue earning taxable compensation, you can continue contributing to a Roth IRA, though you’ll have to stop contributing to a traditional IRA at age 70 years and 6 months.”

Klesius said the federal government has programs that allow workers over 50-years-old to save more money in order to start catching-up late in their careers.

The only stipulation to the programs is the annual contribution cannot be more than the annual taxable income, he said.

Compton said a generic set of solutions is not available because every person’s situation is different.

According to “Cash Flow Control: Ten easy tips to help you make the most of your money,” an article published by William Lynott on the AARP Web site, people other than seniors are unaware of how to manage their money.

The article lends some suggestions to readers advising them not to deposit their money into their checking accounts, instead keep it in accounts that will immediately start drawing interest, don’t allow a CD to roll over automatically, be sure to ask about promotions when it is time to renew them and don’t be in a rush to pay bills because the money in the bank is building interest.

Compton suggests looking at the actions of those who were successful with saving money, saving for purchases by setting goals and planning for the future through a financial advisor.

“Retirement and pensions are things of the past,” she said. “Now, it’s up to the individual to make and build their retirement. Social Security is obviously shaky as well as never meant to be a retirement plan, instead it was supposed to be a supplement. You’ve got to start now.”