MONEY Ask the Expert

How to Live Well on Less by Retiring Overseas

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Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: I hear a lot about people retiring overseas to make their retirement savings go further. My wife and I are pretty adventurous. But can we really save money retiring in another country?

A: Retiring abroad isn’t for everyone—but more and more people are doing it. Nearly 550,000 Americans receive their Social Security benefits abroad, up from nearly 400,000 in 2000, according to the Social Security Administration. That’s a small number compared to the 43 million people over 65 receiving Social Security benefits. Still, 3.3 million of America’s 78 million Baby Boomers say they are interested in retiring abroad, according to Travel Market Report.

The growing interest in overseas living isn’t all that surprising, considering the worries of many pre-retirees about making their money last. There’s no question that you can live well on less in many countries. But to make that happen, you’ll need to plan carefully, says Dan Prescher, an editor at International Living, which publishes guides on the best places to retire overseas.

For most Americans, the biggest savings are a result of the lower prices for health care and housing overseas, says Prescher, who lives in Ecuador with his wife Suzan Haskins. The couple co-authored a book. The International Living Guide To Retiring Overseas On A Budget.

Most countries have a national healthcare system that cover all residents, and monthly premiums are often less than $100. It’s relatively easy to become a resident of another country, which typically involve proving you’ll have at least a modest amount of income, perhaps $1,000 a month.

But quality of health services varies, so research carefully, especially if you have medical problems. Even in countries with well-rated health care systems, the best services are centered around metropolitan areas. “Larger cities have more hospitals and doctors. The farther out you go, the quicker the quality falls off,” says Prescher.

Though Medicare doesn’t cover you if you live abroad, it’s still an option, and one that you should probably keep open. If you sign up—you’re eligible at age 65—and keep paying your premiums, you can use Medicare when you are back in the U.S.

Home prices, property taxes and utilities can be significantly lower in Mexico and countries in Central and South America, which are popular with U.S. retirees. In Mexico, you can find a nice three-bedroom villa near the beach for as little as $150,000, says Prescher.

But you’ll pay a premium for many other needs. Gas and utilities can cost a lot more than in the U.S. And you will also pay far more for anything that needs to be imported, such as computers and electronics or American food and clothing. “A can of Campbell soup can easily cost $4.50,” says Prescher. “You have to ruthlessly profile yourself, and see what you can or can’t live without, when you are figuring out your spending in retirement.”

Then there are taxes. As long as you’re a U.S. citizen, you have to pay income taxes to the IRS, no matter where you live or where your assets are located. Even if you don’t owe taxes, you must file a return. If you have financial accounts with more than $10,000 in a foreign bank, you must file forms on those holdings. In addition, the new Foreign Accounts and Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which requires foreign banks to file U.S. paperwork for ex-pat accounts, has made many of them wary of working with Americans. You may also need to pay taxes in the country where you reside if you own assets there.

Check out safety issues too. Use the State Department’s Retirement Abroad advisory for information for country-specific reports on crimes, infrastructure problems and even scams that target Americans abroad.

The best way to find out if retiring abroad is for you is to spend as much time in your favorite city or village before you commit. Go during the off-season, when it may be rainy or super hot. See how difficult it is to get the things you want and what’s available at the grocery store. Read the local papers and check out online resources. In addition to International Living’s annual Best Places to Retire Overseas rankings, AARP writes about retiring abroad and Expatinfodesk.com publishes relocation guides.

The most valuable information will come from talking to other ex-pats when you’re visiting the country, as well a through message boards and online communities. “You’ll find that ex-pats have to have a sense of adventure and patience to understand that things are done differently,” says Prescher. “For many people, it’s a retirement dream come true.”

MONEY workplace etiquette

What to Say to a Colleague Who’s Been Fired

Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: What should I say to a colleague who has just been fired?

A: People often don’t know what to say, so they say nothing at all, says Judith Martin, the Miss Manners etiquette columnist and author of Miss Manners Minds Your Business.

No doubt it’s awkward, but by not acknowledging the situation you’re actually making it more awkward. “Getting fired is a traumatic experience but it’s even worse if your colleagues suddenly shun you,” says Martin.

Instead, offer your support with a simple “I’m sorry” or “Let me know how I can help.”

Don’t try to make light of the situation. Gratuitous statements such as ‘you’ll find something terrific’ or ‘you’re better off—we have to stay and now we’ll all have extra work’ aren’t helpful, says Martin.

You should also refrain from bad-mouthing the person who fired your co-worker or gossiping in the office about what happened. That won’t help your ex-colleague – or you. There may be a very good reason the person was fired, and you’ll only hear one side of the story.

If you had a good relationship with your former colleague, make plans to take her out to lunch and give her an opportunity to vent. If you feel confident in her work, offer to be a reference or write a letter of recommendation. Share names of contacts or recruiters who may be helpful.

“Who knows,” says Martin, “maybe the person will land a fabulous job and be able to help you down the road.”

MONEY Millennials

10 Places Millennials Are Moving For Bigger Paychecks

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With 5.1% unemployment and low-priced homes, New Orleans is a top town for millennials. John Coletti—Getty Images

Over the past five years, Gen Yers have decamped for some surprisingly pricey cities in search of a higher-paying job.

Millennials are on the hunt for high-paying jobs, and they’re moving to some unexpected places to find them, according to a new report out today.

Bruised by the rough post-recession job market, Gen-Yers are moving from lower-cost cities to places with a higher cost of living but more plentiful and lucrative jobs, a RealtyTrac analysis of Census data from 2007 through 2013 found.

“Millennials are attracted to markets with good job prospects and low unemployment, but that tend to have higher rental rates and high home-price appreciation,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. “It’s a tradeoff.”

In the 10 U.S. counties with the biggest increase in millennials, the average unemployment rate is 5.2%, well below the national average of 6.1%. The average household income is $62,496, vs. $51,058 nationally. The median home price is $406,800 (nearly double the U.S. median of $222,900), while a three-bedroom apartment rents for $1,619 a month on average, just over the national average of $1,550.

Riding the robust job market in the D.C. area, two counties in Northern Virginia with unemployment rates below 3.7% top the list. But not all places that the 69-million-strong millennial generation are flocking to are expensive. New Orleans, where the median home price is $140,000, edged out San Francisco, where tech jobs may be plentiful but the median home price is nearly $1 million.

New Orleans, where the unemployment rate is 5.1%, is a transportation center with one of the busiest and largest ports in the world, as well as tons of jobs related to the local oil refineries. Denver, Nashville, and Portland, Ore., all top 10 areas, offer median home prices below $300,000 and a diversity of jobs in technology, health care, and education.

Perhaps the most surprising millennial magnet: Clarksville, Tenn, the fifth largest city in the state behind Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, and Chattanooga. Forty five miles north of Nashville, it benefits from spillover from that city’s strong job market, but Clarksville also has its own industrial base, plus nearby Ft. Campbell and Austin Peay State University. The unemployment rate: 4.7%.

Here are RealtyTrac’s top 10 destinations for millennials on the move:

Rank County State Metro Area % Increase in Millennial Population, 2007-2013 Milennials % of Total Population, 2013 Median Home Price, April 2014 Average Monthly Apartment Rent (3 beds), 2014
1 Arlington County Va. Washington, DC 82% 39% $505,000 $1,996
2 Alexandria City Va. Washington, DC 81% 34% $465,000 $1,966
3 Orleans Parish La. New Orleans 71% 30% $140,000 $1,190
4 San Francisco County Calif. San Francisco 68% 32% $950,000 $2,657
5 Denver County Colo. Denver 57% 33% $270,000 $1,409
6 Montgomery County Tenn. Clarksville 46% 31% $128,000 $1,016
7 Hudson County N.J. New York 44% 31% $330,000 $1,643
8 New York County N.Y. New York 43% 32% $850,000 $1,852
9 Multnomah County Ore. Portland 41% 28% $270,000 $1,359
10 Davidson County Tenn. Nashville 37% 29% $160,000 $1,131
MONEY Ask the Expert

The Right Way to Tap Your IRA in Retirement

Q: When I do my IRA required minimum distribution I take some extra money out and move it to a taxable account. Good idea or bad idea? Thanks – Bill Faye, Rockville, MD

A: After years of accumulating money for retirement, figuring out what to do with “extra” money withdrawn from your IRA accounts seems like a nice problem to have. But required minimum distributions, or RMDs, can be tricky.

First, a bit of background on managing RMDs. These withdrawals are a requirement under IRS rules, since Uncle Sam wants to collect the taxes you’ve deferred on contributions to your IRAs or 401(k)s. You must take your distribution by April 1st of the year you turn 70 ½; subsequent RMDs are due by December 31st each year. If you don’t take the distribution, you’ll pay a 50% tax penalty in addition to regular income tax on the amount that should have been withdrawn.

The size of your required withdrawal depends on your age and the account balance. (You can find the details on the IRS website here.) If you’re over 59 ½, you can take out higher amounts than the minimum required, but the excess withdrawals don’t count toward your future distributions. Still, by managing your IRAs the right way, you can preserve more of your portfolio and possibly reduce taxes, says Mary Pucciarelli, a financial advisor with MetLife Premier Client Group.

For those fortunate enough to hold more than one IRA, you must calculate the withdrawal amount based on all your accounts. But you can take the money out of any combination of the IRAs you hold. This flexibility means you can make strategic withdrawals. Say you have an IRA with a big exposure to stocks and the market is down. In that scenario, you might want to pull money from another account that isn’t so stock heavy, so you’re not selling investments at a low point.

You can minimize RMDs by converting one or more of your traditional IRAs to a Roth IRA. Roths don’t have minimum distribution requirements, so you can choose when and how much money you take out. More importantly, you don’t pay taxes on the withdrawals and neither will your heirs if you leave it to them. You will owe taxes on the amount you convert. To get the full benefit of the conversion, consider this move only if you can pay that bill with money outside your IRA. Many investors choose to make the move after they’ve retired and their tax bill is lower. Pucciarelli suggests doing the conversion over time so you can avoid a big tax bill in one year.

Up until this year, you could avoid paying taxes on your RMD by making a qualified charitable contribution directly from your IRA to a charity. The tax provision expired in December. It’s possible Congress will renew the tax break, though nothing is certain in Washington. Meanwhile, if you itemize on your taxes, you can deduct your charitable contribution.

As for the extra money you’ve withdrawn, it’s fine to stash it in a taxable account. If you have sufficient cash on hand for living expenses, you can opt for longer-term investments, such as bond or stock funds. But be sure your investments suit your financial goals. “You don’t want to throw your asset allocation out of whack when you move the money,” says Pucciarelli. Consider a tax-efficient option, such as an index stock fund or muni bond fund. That way, Uncle Sam won’t take another big tax bite out of your returns.

Do you have a personal finance question for our experts? Write to AskTheExpert@moneymail.com.

MONEY workplace etiquette

How to Work With a Boss You Can’t Trust

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Scott M. Lacey

Q: My EVP is a serial liar. He never takes the blame when something is wrong, and instead, he completely throws people under the bus. If something goes right, he takes the majority of the credit. What can I do? – Brad, Atlanta

A: As infuriating as your boss’ behavior is, you want to be measured and strategic in your response.

“There are people like this in every company,” says Stacey Hawley, founder of Credo, a compensation and talent management firm and author of Rise to the Top. “If you complain about your boss to someone else, you just look like you can’t handle the situation. If you want to be in leadership position, you have to know how to deal with people like this.”

Four tactics that can help:

Make it tougher for your boss to lie

When sending emails or memos with important updates and accomplishments related to a project, copy all of the key people involved. Let everyone know that if there are questions, you’d be happy to be the point person. Ask other team members to submit updates, too.

“It’ll be harder for your boss to take credit if everyone is in the loop on what’s going on,” says Hawley.

Address mistakes head on

When a problem crops up—and your boss complains to a higher up, or blames you or a team member for the mistake—avoid the temptation to clear your name.

“The boss has egg on his face and is trying to manage his reputation by casting blame elsewhere, ” says Hawley. “You’re not going to improve things if you make an accusation. Some things you just have to let go.”

She suggests scheduling a meeting with your boss for the sole purpose of discussing the error: how it happened, how you can fix it, and how you can keep it from happening again. Your boss may have legitimate reasons for thinking you caused the error and you can clear that up, says Hawley.

The key thing, no matter who caused the error, is to make sure that you focus on solutions.

Play to the boss’s ego

Should your supervisor take credit for your work in a meeting or in front of others, speak up. “You need to make it clear you played a role, but be sure to give him credit, too,” says Hawley. “Your boss may be acting this way because he perceives you as a threat, so you want to take the threat off the table.”

You might say something like, “Bill, that was a great idea you had to do X. I was glad that it gave myself and the team an opportunity to do Y.” This also allows you to acknowledge other people who contributed to the project, so that you don’t end up being perceived as a credit thief by those who report to you!

Make friends in high places

Your boss shouldn’t be the only one who knows about your work. “You need to develop relationships with other higher-ups who can advocate for you,” says Hawley.

Build these relationships by asking senior people for advice on a project you are working on, sharing with them positive feedback from clients and customers, or inviting them to lunch or for a coffee to discuss ideas you have to advance your company’s goals.

Best case scenario, you’ll be on the corner office’s radar when it comes time to replace your slimy supervisor. But at the very least, you’re ensuring that your bad boss doesn’t sink your future prospects at the company. “You can turn this situation around and make it a chance to grow your own career,” Hawley says.

MONEY Ask the Expert

5 Strategies for Finding Meaningful Part-Time Work In Retirement

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Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: I want to find part-time work to bring in extra income when I retire next year. But I don’t want to be a greeter at Walmart. How do I find a job that’s meaningful but still flexible enough for me to enjoy my retirement life?

A: Working in retirement has become the new normal. Nearly three-quarters of workers 50-plus say their ideal retirement will include working, according to a survey by Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Age Wave. But they also want a job that is flexible and fulfilling. Some 62% of working retirees said staying mentally active was the most important reason to work vs just 31% who said they simply needed the money.

“A lot of people are in the same boat. They need to bring in some income and are happy to work but don’t want to go from a professional career to something mindless or boring,” says Tim Driver, CEO of RetirementJobs.com. Still, it’s often challenging for an older worker to find that combination. If you can, start the hunt while you’re still working and your skills are up to date—that way, you can leverage your current contacts. Here are five more tips to consider:

Look to your employer. If you like what you do and want to still use your professional expertise, a natural place to start is with your current employer, says Nancy Collamer, a career coach and author of Second Act Careers. “It might be possible to downshift into a part-time or seasonal schedule, freelance or be on-call as an in-house temp.” For advice on how to ask for a flexible work arrangement, go to WorkOptions.com.

Line up new clients. Does your career lend itself to consulting or freelance project work? Many fields do, from graphic design and event planning to tax advising and tech services. Consulting or freelancing is an ideal retirement job for retirees because of the flexibility it gives you to choose your projects and how much you want to work, says Driver. There are a number of sites that connect older workers to project work, including Driver’s RetirementJobs.com and RetiredBrains.com.

Fill in at a high level. For mid- and higher-level executives, another option is to temp as an interim executive. Interim execs fill an existing position while the company searches for a permanent replacement. It’s a great option if you still crave the prestige and pace of the executive life, but also want the flexibility to enjoy time off in between assignments, says Collamer. The Riley Guide lists firms that specializing in placing interim execs.

Find your passion. If you want to connect with work that you feel is most meaningful, you may be able to transfer your professional skills to a non-profit that focuses on issues important to you. “While nonprofits depend heavily on volunteers, most have at least a few paid staff positions,” says Collamer. Start volunteering now and see what opportunities are available. Nonprofits with tight budgets may be more open to part-timers. Check out non-profit job sites such as Bridgespan, Idealist and NonProfitJobs. Another good resource is Encore.org, which helps older workers transition to careers with a social purpose.

Seek adventure. Finally, if you’re looking for something totally new, check out CoolWorks.com’s Older and Bolder section. It is aimed at retirees looking for seasonal or temporary jobs at national parks, lodges, ranches and other outdoor destinations.

Do you have a personal finance question for our experts? Write to AskTheExpert@moneymail.com.

MONEY Careers

What To Do When The Boss’s Daughter Is Tough to Work With

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Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: I work for a small firm of about 20 people. The problem is that the boss’s daughter also works there and is a trial for everyone. She is 25, not particularly bright, and very arrogant. She acts and speaks like it is her firm and has alienated just about everyone. No one will dare say anything to the boss, not even during reviews. What should I do?– Name Withheld

A: You have two options: Find a non-confrontational way to make your boss aware of the situation and see if he or she is inclined to act. Or look for a new job.

The latter might seem unfair, but that’s the reality of working for a small, family-run business, says Dana Brownlee, a corporate trainer and founder of Professionalism Matters. “Your boss clearly wants his daughter to play a role in the company, and he calls the shots,” says Brownlee.

It’s not clear if her behavior is just unpleasant or if her attitude is affecting the business in a material way. As much as your boss loves and supports his daughter, if she is driving valued employees away or hurting client relationships, he may not want to jeopardize the business, says Brownlee.

Even at a small firm, your boss may not be aware of what’s happening, especially if no one is speaking up at reviews. If you can get your boss to see what’s going on, there’s a chance the situation will change.

Set a meeting with your boss. Don’t criticize his daughter. Instead, talk about the issues that are having an impact on business and ask for advice on how to handle them. For example, if you have a client who has complained about dealing with the daughter or a decision she made, you can report that and say you’re worried about losing business. Your case will be stronger if you can get several colleagues or even the client to bring the problem up with your boss too.

You could also recommend a change in how reviews are done so that staffers have a way to give honest and frank feedback confidentially. Brownlee recommends a 360-degree review process, in which employees receive anonymous feedback from the people who work around them. That might not be an easy sell in a small organization, but if you have any influence with your boss, this would be an objective way to raise his awareness, says Brownlee.

The best you can hope for is that your boss gets concerned enough about her behavior that he talks to her about it. Even if your boss does that, however, it’s not very likely he will fire his daughter. “If that’s not a situation you can live with,” says Brownlee, “your best strategy is to find a new job.”

Have a workplace etiquette question? Send it to careers@moneymail.com.

MONEY Second Career

This PR Exec Launched Her Second Career by Raising Millions for Wounded Veterans

PHH Co Founder John Gallina and Vicki Thomas
Purple Heart Homes co-founder John Gallina with Vicki Thomas Lynnette Thompson for Purple Heart Homes

Marketing pro Vicki Thomas saw a news segment about a non-profit start up. She knew she could help them—and ended up with a new job and happier life.

Just four years ago Vicki Thomas was a successful public relations executive in New York City with high-profile financial services clients. But she was was growing frustrated. “There was a voice calling me to really make a difference in the lives of others, not just improve a client’s bottom line,” says Thomas. “I wanted to do something more fulfilling, but I wasn’t sure what it was going to be.”

Then one day in 2009, she saw a news segment on CNN about Purple Heart Homes, a North Carolina organization founded by Iraq veterans Dale Beatty and John Gallina to provide handicap-accessible homes to wounded vets. Beatty and Gallina, who also suffered combat injuries, focus on vets who lack the money and resources to renovate their own residences. Thomas felt an immediate connection and wanted to help the fledgling organization raise more money. Improving their marketing and public relations outreach was key.

“I knew they could use professional advice but couldn’t afford the kind of expertise I could give,” says Thomas. She cold-called Gallina and Beatty, leaving a message offering her services pro-bono. “It took them two weeks to call me. But we agreed to meet and we’ve been working together since.”

Thomas left her corporate PR career behind in 2009 and began drawing on her 35 years of experience in fundraising and marketing to bring attention to the non-profit. “When I met them, I couldn’t get a news story in the local paper about them,” says Thomas. A few months later, thanks in large part to her network of contacts, Gallina and Beatty were featured in a 2011 Time magazine cover story about a new generation of veterans bringing their leadership lessons home—they even appeared on the cover. “That opened so many doors. ABC News and Nightline did stories on them, and money started pouring in,” says Thomas.

Today, as the chief communications officer for Purple Heart Homes, Thomas has helped raised millions in financial contributions and material donations. In her first year with the start up, contributions rocketed from $67,000 to $2 million. With that cash horde, the non-profit was able to qualify for grants, including a major donation from Home Depot, which further improved its financial stability. She’s particularly proud of a program she launched that matches veterans with foreclosed homes donated by banks.

After providing her services pro bono for two and a half years, Thomas now 68, began working full time for Purple Heart Homes in 2012 and drawing a salary of $48,000 a year. It’s a lot less than what she earned in her PR career, and she’s fine with that. Her husband still works, but “we’re at an age where we’re not buying stuff,” she says.

She enjoys the different pace of her work life, which is far less hectic than her days in PR. “I have so much flexibility—I can take a play day when I want to,” says Thomas, who works from her home in Connecticut. “I probably have a more perfect balance in my life than I ever had before.”

As for retirement, it’s not happening. “They’ll have to carry me out on a flip chart,” she says. “I believe you remain much more vital and connected if you can work in some capacity, especially if you are doing something you are passionate about.”

Vicki Thomas was the 2013 Winner of the Purpose Prize for Future Promise, sponsored by Symetra. The Purpose Prize is a program operated by Encore.org, a non-profit organization that recognizes social entrepreneurs over 60 who are launching second acts for the greater good.

MONEY Aging

The One Thing You Need to Get Right for a Secure Retirement

walkable community
Getty Images

As Baby Boomers reach retirement, they need to make sure their homes and communities are age-friendly, a new report finds.

The biggest threat to your retirement security may be the home you live in, according to a study out today by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and AARP Foundation.

Your home and its location has an enormous—but often overlooked—impact on your quality of life and financial security in retirement, a problem that will only grow worse as the population of people ages 50 and older surges, according to the report. The number of people over 50 will climb to 133 million in the next 15 years, up more than 70% since 2000.

“Recognizing the implications of this profound demographic shift and taking immediate steps to address these issues is vital to our national standard of living,” says Chris Herbert, acting managing director of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.

For older adults, their home is typically their single largest expense. One-third of people 50 and older and nearly 40% of people over 80 pay more than one-third of their income for housing, including mortgage or rent. But even if your mortgage is paid off, routine expenses such as maintenance, insurance and property taxes account for a big chunk of your budget.

Despite the costs, most people want to remain in their homes as they age—73% of people 45 and older say they would like to stay in their current residence as long as possible, an AARP survey found. And 67% say they want to remain in the same community. Yet most homes aren’t equipped with basic adaptions that would allow people to remain there as they grow older, such as no-step entry ways or lever-style handles on doors and faucets for easy opening.

Another looming problem is lack of transportation. A majority of older adults live in car-dependent suburban or rural locations, which can isolate them from friends and family. By contrast, seniors in areas that allow them to walk to the store or grab a bus, as well as receive services if necessary, are far better off.

Younger Baby Boomers, those now in their 50s, are particularly at risk for being stuck in housing that won’t work as they age. They have lower incomes and more debt than previous generations—three-quarters of homeowners age 50-64 were still paying off mortgages in 2010, up 12 percentage points from 1992. Younger Baby Boomers are also less likely to be parents: 16% of the youngest baby boomers, age 50 to 59, don’t have children who can take care of them in their older years.

The Harvard/AAARP report calls for federal, state and community-based programs, such as expanding housing, transportation options and senior services, to tackle the problem. But government-based changes, especially ones that need substantial funding, will be slow to materialize.

Even if you’re healthy now, the odds that you’ll need some kind of care grow the longer you live. By age 85, more than two in three adults have at least one disability, including cognitive, mobility or vision problems. Here are several moves to consider now that will help you live comfortably in your later years:

Retrofit your home now. If you want to remain in your current home once you retire, adapt it so it is easier to get around. For example, if your house has a lot of stairs, add a master suite or a full bathroom to the main level so you can live on one floor. Do it while you have the income coming in to pay the costs, as well as the energy to oversee a renovation. You can find guides to age-friendly remodeling projects at AARP’s Livable Communities site and advice at The National Aging in Place Council.

Downsize to a more manageable space. A smaller home or condo will give you less lawn and home to care for, as well as lower your tax, maintenance and insurance costs. There are also many new options for retirement housing are popping up around the country. Co-housing, for example, is a standalone residence linked to a shared space, such as a yard or community room where you can cook and enjoy meals with other residents of the community. House sharing, where a friend, family member or tenant moves in and helps with chores and expenses, is another alternative to consider.

Move to a senior-friendly area. Though few people have traditionally moved in retirement, Baby Boomers are more willing to relocate. Nearly 30% of boomers plan to move when they retire, another AARP survey found. For many, relocating can be a smart way to cut expenses, especially if you move to an area with lower or no taxes and a cheaper cost of living. Look for places with good public transportation, plentiful senior services and walkable areas. For useful resources, check out the list of 31 places AARP is working with to create age-friendly places, a Milken Institute report on senior-friendly big and small cities, and MONEY’s Best Places to Retire.

Make sure you have a strong network. Whether you move or stay put, having a solid network of family and friends is invaluable. The Department of Health and Human Services provides a National Caregiver Support program through the Administration on Aging.

MONEY Ask the Expert

The Secret To Saving For Retirement When You Have Nothing Saved At All

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Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: I am a 52-year-old single mother. I have NO savings at all for any kind of retirement. What can I do? Where should I start? I also want to start something for my daughter who is 13. Please, I would really love your help. – Anita, West Long Branch, NJ

A: No retirement savings? Join the crowd. A recent survey by BankRate.com found that 26% of those ages 50 to 65 have nothing at all saved for retirement. But even in your 50s, it’s not too late to catch up or at least improve your situation, says Robert Stammers, director of investor education at the CFA Institute.

“You shouldn’t panic. People who start late have to forge a fiscal discipline, but there are lots of tools you can use to ramp up your savings,” says Stammers, who recently published a guide to the steps to take for a more secure retirement.

First, figure out your retirement goals. When do you want to retire? What kind of lifestyle do you want? What will your biggest expenses be? The answers will determine how much you need to save. If you want to maintain your current living standard, you’ll need to accumulate 10 to 12 times your annual income by 65, according to benchmarks calculated by Charles Farrell, author of Your Money Ratios.

You’ll probably end up with some scary numbers. If you earn $75,000 a year, you might need $750,000 to $900,000 by age 65. That amount would provide 80% of your pre-retirement income, assuming a 5% withdrawal rate. You probably won’t need 100% of your current income, since some spending eases up after you quit working—commuting costs and lunches out—and your taxes may be lower.

If you can live on less than 70% of your pre-retirement income—and many retirees say they live just fine on 66% —you may be able to retire at 65 with a $500,000 nest egg. Delaying retirement till 67 or later can lower your savings goal further to perhaps $400,000. (All these targets assume you’ll also receive Social Security; see what you’re eligible for at SSA.gov.)

Don’t be daunted if these figures seem out of reach. Even getting part-way to the goal can make a big difference in your retirement lifestyle. To get started, find out if you have access to a 401(k)—if you do, enroll pronto and contribute the max. People over 50 are eligible for catch-up contributions, so you can sock away even more than someone younger and you’ll save on taxes. You’ll also likely benefit from an employer match, which is free money. You can use calculators like this one to see how your contributions will grow over time. Someone saving 17% of a $75,000 salary over 15 years will end up with nearly $400,000, assuming an employer match.

If you don’t have a 401(k), then set up an IRA, which will also permit catch-up savings. Still, the contribution limits for IRAs are lower than those for 401(k)s, so you’ll need funnel additional money into a taxable savings account.

To free up cash for this saving program, review your budget and find areas where you can cut. “You’ll need to make some hard decisions about your lifestyle,” says Stammers. Small moves can help, such as downgrading your cable and cellphone plans and using coupons to lower food costs. But to make real savings progress, you’ll need to go after some big costs too. Can you cut your mortgage or rent payments by downsizing or moving to a cheaper neighborhood? Can you trade in your car for a cheaper model?

You can speed up your progress by tucking away any raises or windfalls that you may receive. And think about ways you can bring in more income to save—perhaps you have a room to rent out or you may be able to earn extra cash with a part-time job.

As for your goal of saving for your daughter, it’s admirable, but you need to focus on your own retirement. In the long run, achieving your own financial security will benefit your daughter as well—you won’t need to lean on her when you’re older. And by taking these steps, Stammers says, you’ll also be a good financial role model for her.

Do you have a personal finance question for our experts? Write to AskTheExpert@moneymail.com.

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