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The Accidental 401(k)

Greg Spears  |  Apr 29, 2022

WHEN I GOT MY FIRST job in 1976, my employer didn’t offer a 401(k) for one simple reason—the plans didn’t exist. By 1985, a new employer did offer one, so I signed on.
Where had the 401(k) come from? Well, I met the man who put the K into the tax code, and he was beyond humble about it. In fact, he’d forgotten all about it.
Barber Conable Jr. graduated at age 19 from Cornell University to join the Marines Corps in World War II.

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Look Before Leaping

James Kerr  |  Apr 27, 2022

WELL, I’M SIX MONTHS into my retirement from the corporate world. How are things going? Any regrets? Any big surprises?
No regrets, for sure. I knew that leaving the workplace at age 61 would be a tradeoff of freedom gained versus money forgone. But I had a second-act dream to pursue—becoming an author—and, for me, that tradeoff was worth going for. So far, it has been. I have my first book out and another in the works.

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A Rocky Road

Don Southworth  |  Apr 2, 2022

MY PATH TO FINANCIAL freedom began when I was seven years old. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time, but that was when money became something I started to worry and care about.

I was living with my mom and my sister in a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco when my dad came over to bring us Valentine’s candy. Mom and Dad had been separated for a few months, and within minutes of his arrival,

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Testing the Waters

Dan McDermott  |  Apr 1, 2022

AT THE PUBLIC POOL where I swam growing up, each hour’s mandatory safety break ended with the announcement that, “You may slowly reenter the water.”
There were two kinds of swimmers during those hot, humid Iowa summers. One group didn’t even hear the entire announcement. They were already enthusiastically running, yelling and jumping feet-first into the pool. The other group walked to the pool, tested the water with one foot and then waded in bit by bit,

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Everyone’s an Expert

Richard Quinn  |  Dec 8, 2021

DOES ANYONE DOUBT that planning for retirement is unique for each individual?

The way we manage money, how we handle debt, our desired lifestyle and our family status are all important variables to consider. From what I observe, however, many people ignore these differences and seek a one-size-fits-all answer.

I’m addicted to YouTube. In addition to history, archeology and general education videos, I watch many retirement planning shows. I also follow retirement groups on Facebook and bloggers who embrace the FIRE (financial independence-retire early) lifestyle.

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Spin the Wheel

Richard Connor  |  Dec 7, 2021

I RECENTLY SPOKE with a colleague. I’d expected him to be retired by now. He told me that he’d planned to retire last spring, but his employer offered him a three-day-a-week part-time schedule with full benefits. He discussed it with his financial planner.
The planner told him that, if he retired, he had an 85% chance of meeting his retirement goals. By working part-time for two more years, his chances of meeting his goals went up to 95%.

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Not an Investment

Richard Quinn  |  Nov 16, 2021

IN A RECENT TWITTER post, a man claimed that if all the Social Security taxes he and his employers pay were invested instead, he’d accumulate $1.9 million by age 67. That sum could then generate $95,000 in annual income, he added, which is more than his anticipated Social Security benefit. He concluded that Social Security was “theft.”

Claims like these bother me greatly because they’re often widely read and believed—and they’re nonsense.

Social Security is an insurance program,

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Six Principles

John Lim  |  Nov 15, 2021

MEET AMERICA’S retirement savings vehicle: the 401(k) plan. Perhaps, instead, you know one of its close cousins: the 403(b), 457 or federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan. These are called defined contribution plans because employees must decide how much to contribute. On top of that, employees are responsible for choosing which investments to buy.
This is a daunting challenge—with high stakes. These decisions determine how much folks will have when they retire. How can you make the most of these plans?

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Save for Tomorrow

John Lim  |  Nov 9, 2021

SOCIAL SECURITY benefits are fairly modest—the average retiree receives $1,555 per month or $18,660 a year—but they’re a vital source of retirement income for countless retirees. Today’s burning question: How can we shore up the program’s finances?
It’s estimated that Social Security provides some 30% of the income for the elderly and that nearly nine out of 10 people age 65 and older receive benefits. Social Security is even more important for women, 42% of whom rely on it for half or more of their income.

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Books to Live By

Mike Drak  |  Oct 29, 2021

I READ A LOT—and every now and then I come across an “aha” book that ends up changing the course of my life. Here are two of the most important:

How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free by Ernie Zelinski

In my mid-50s, I wasn’t happy in my banking job. The stress was starting to get to me. Don’t get me wrong: I was good at my job and it paid well.

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My Total Portfolio

Charles D. Ellis  |  Oct 14, 2021

TIME AND AGAIN, we’re reminded to fully understand a question—particularly when the question is complex—before acting or deciding not to act.
“Johnny pushed me” may have been the whole story, but not likely. Why did Johnny push David? What was the context? How are the two boys connected? What’s their history? Was it a big push? Did it do harm?
Ideally, we want to know the whole situation before we decide what to say or do.

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Why Retire at 65?

Charles D. Ellis  |  Oct 6, 2021

ONE OF THE VERY best financial decisions is available to almost every American worker. That’s the good news. The bad news: Most workers won’t take advantage of this opportunity. Worse yet, they don’t know about it, and no one is telling them—even though they may need to make the right decision to be financially comfortable in their elder years.
What’s that best financial decision? I’ll get there in a moment.
Health care has been making wonderful progress in the past few decades.

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On Your Way Out

Howard Rohleder  |  Sep 23, 2021

IMAGINE YOU PLAN to retire next year. What can you do beforehand to gain the most later on? Here are some ideas to consider before you log off at work for the last time.
If you’re retiring mid-year, increase your 401(k) or 403(b) contributions. Raise your savings enough to make a full year’s allowable contribution in the months you have left. This may be your last chance to put away tax-deferred money. I retired mid-year,

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Often Overlooked

Adam M. Grossman  |  Sep 19, 2021

PERSONAL FINANCE pundits love to debate safe withdrawal rates—the amount a retiree can withdraw each year from a portfolio without depleting it too quickly. I agree this is an important topic. In fact, I’ve addressed it a few times myself in recent months.

In July, I discussed the well-known 4% rule. A few weeks ago, I described an alternative called the bucket strategy. But as you build your retirement plan, withdrawal rates shouldn’t be the only consideration.

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Teaching Teachers

Chris Nye  |  Aug 18, 2021

ACROSS THE COUNTRY, teachers are losing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement money because of the fees in their 403(b) plans. When I tell this to most teachers, they look at me with a level of skepticism that should be reserved for the salesperson who signed them up for a 12-year variable annuity contract.
“That can’t be true,” they say. “The district wouldn’t allow this. The union wouldn’t allow this. Everyone I know uses that company.

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