Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Ugly (Financial) Side of Retirement

Retirement. The very word conjures up images of lying around the house, dozing in the hammock, sipping iced tea. Or maybe you prefer a more active dream of daily golf or fishing. Whatever you imagine, it's unlikely you'll consider the ugly side of retirement that few people mention. This is the side that anyone who hasn't prepared financially for retirement can tell you about.

Instead of those lazy, relaxing, enjoyable days, or even the more active ones where you get to do what you choose, this side of retirement is a different picture altogether. It's one of limited income, financial stress, the worry over paying for your medicine or buying groceries. This side of retirement is not only ugly, it's frightening as well. The good news is, with some simple planning, you never have to encounter this unwelcome guest as you age.

Retirement is a part of life, but because age seems so far down the road, too few of us plan for it properly. We may start a 401K, but then we change jobs and cash it out. Or we may start a CD, but when it matures, we use the money for something else. We have good intentions to plan for this inevitable day, but too often we only aim and never shoot where our financial future is concerned.

One way to overcome this demoralizing time in life is to begin now, today, to plan. Even if you can only put away $50 a month, or $25 a month, put something away right now for your retirement. Don't count on the government to support you. They can't even support themselves. Instead, take action on your own behalf and start a separate account, then begin to stash a little money away every month, or ever week. This will become your small retirement fund when the day arrives.

Another way to plan for your retirement is to do your level best to get out of debt completely. If you must maintain a mortgage payment, try to get it as low as possible, but if there is anyway to pay off even the mortgage do so. It will be worth the sacrifice when the day of your retirement comes and you don't have to worry about a place to live.

Financial Expert, Dave Ramsey, says you have to live like no one else now, so that you can live like no one else later. In the world of retirement planning, that means cutting corners, saving money and living more frugally now so you can enjoy your retirement years later without a heavy financial burden hanging over your head.

Retirement is often called the "golden years." And that can be true. But only if you plan for it and do your utmost to ensure you are financially stable by the time that day arrives. Who knows... if you plan well enough, you might even be able to squeeze in a few golf games now and then if you've a mind to.

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