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March 24, 2017

A lot of retirement planning is about the money: what you need to do and not do today to be able to leave the workforce on your schedule and live the life you dream of. Want to buy yourself the freedom to stop working—or at least quit your current career—at 60 or 55 or even earlier? We’ve got lots of specific tips in MONEY’s guide to early retirement. But don’t shortchange the nonfinancial parts of planning for retirement, like sussing out the most satisfying and meaningful ways to spend your time when you have more of it—which may include some paid work—and making sure that you and your spouse, if you are a couple, are on the same page. You’ve got an adventure ahead of you.

CORRECTION: In last week’s newsletter, we rightly advised people who reached 70-1/2 last year to promptly take their first required distribution from IRAs if they haven’t already. But we incorrectly said the deadline is March 31. The official deadline is April 1 as usual, but since that’s a Saturday this year, the day before is your last chance to sell securities in your account to free up cash to withdraw.

Best wishes,

Karen

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THIS WEEK’S RETIREMENT NEWS, INSIGHTS AND ADVICE

The Comprehensive Guide to an Early Retirement

Yes, it’s possible to leave the workforce years before many of your peers, although it probably won’t be easy. An ambitious retirement timetable may require a whole new attitude toward your finances, in which every spending decision is a tradeoff against your goal, writer Elizabeth O’Brien explains. To help make your dream a reality, look for ways to shift your saving into overdrive. And plan to stay flexible on adjusting your spending and taking on some measure of paid work once you take the leap. MONEY

How to Get Your Employer to Let You Retire Gradually

Phasing into retirement has lots of appeal: Rather than quitting cold turkey, you can maintain your professional identity and some pay and still have more time for other activities. But how do you sell that idea to a hesitant employer? Ted Beck, president of the National Endowment for Financial Education, has suggestions on facing down four possible objections from your company. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

The New Retirement Is...Not to Retire

Sometimes money woes force a retiree to head back to work. But for other people, returning to a paid position is mostly about fun or a new challenge. Writer Jane Wells profiles three people who retired earlier than they had expected and then took on new paying roles. “Between 60 and 65 I felt like a kid," one man recalls. But then he got bored. CNBC

A Roth IRA Could Be a Worse Choice Than You Think

A Roth IRA is sometimes viewed as the no-brainer pick vs. a traditional IRA. That's because the Roth produces tax-free income in retirement. But the comparison isn’t so simple, contributor Walter Updegrave explains. And you just might be better off saying yes to both flavors of IRA. MONEY

Trumpcare Has Seniors Rethinking Early Retirement

The big news in Washington this week has been the struggle by President Trump and House Republicans to muster enough votes to pass their Obamacare replacement plan. Whatever happens next, the uncertainty about the future availability and prices of individual health policies is weighing on people who have left work or are considering retiring before the Medicare eligibility age of 65. BLOOMBERG

Retiree Roundtable: Lessons Learned

In some ways, retirement is like leaving one job and starting another one, one retiree tells Morningstar director of personal finance Christine Benz. “You need to do your homework,” he explains, and on the first day, “you've got to set some goals.” You can watch the video or read the transcript of a panel discussion in which six retirees share pleasant surprises and some challenges they’ve encountered. MORNINGSTAR

Don't Pass Up Free Retirement Money From Uncle Sam

The federal Saver’s Credit is off limits to many workers because their incomes are too high. But an adult child or someone who is semi-retired might qualify. So check out the rules for this tax benefit of up to $2,000 for contributing to accounts like a 401(k) or IRA. On 2016 returns, the credit is available when adjusted gross income doesn't exceed $30,750 for singles and $61,500 for married couples filing jointly. CBS MONEYWATCH

More and More Americans Think They Need $1 Million to Retire

More than a third of workers believe they’ll need a $1 million nest egg for later life, a new survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute shows. The big question is whether their estimate is realistic. We already know that many people don’t have a good handle on how they are doing in their preparations for retirement. The latest survey suggests one reason people may be off: Only 41% of the surveyed workers had tried to calculate how much they would need for a comfortable retirement. MONEY

And Dr. Freud Asks: How Does It Feel? The Six Months Before I Retired…

Feeling a little apprehensive about the transition to retirement? Then you’ll appreciate this stream-of-consciousness essay by blogger Susan Leader about her final months on the job in the financial-services industry. In Leader’s imaginary conversation with the bearded doctor, she tells him about getting teary-eyed at the office, saying things to colleagues that she wouldn’t have said before, and feeling a layer of stress slip away. RETIREMENT, WHATEVER THAT IS?!

An Improbable 6,000-Mile Boat Trip Around the East Coast

Retirees are numerous among the boaters sailing the “Great Loop” from the Great Lakes, down the Mississippi, into the Gulf of Mexico and up the Atlantic coast. Experience the flavor of the voyage and the “Looper” mind-set from millennial writer Jamie Lauren Keiles, who joined a mid-50s couple for one leg of the trip. THE NEW YORK TIMES

YOUR RETIREMENT QUESTIONS ANSWERED

This Is When (and Why) You Need a Financial Advisor

Q: How do I know when I need a financial advisor? I can choose between target-date funds and index funds that just track the market, and there are robo-advisors out there if I want more specialized input. When is it worth the time and money to seek out (and pay for) advice from a human?

A: There's no single hard-and-fast guideline, but the kinds of investments you have and how much they're worth are a good place to start. READ MORE

ABOUT KAREN

Karen Damato is an assistant managing editor at MONEY, overseeing coverage of retirement and taxes. She joined MONEY in 2016 after a long career as a writer and editor at The Wall Street Journal. You can email her at karen.damato@moneymail.com and follow her on Twitter @DamatoK.

 
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