June 12, 2009
There's no getting around it: Baby boomers are officially middle-aged. Millions of Americans born in 1959 will turn 50 this year; and many boomers born right after World War II have already begun receiving Social Security benefits.
Chances are that most boomers didn't grow up with the same depression-era mentality as their parents, which explains why some find it difficult to live within their means and probably haven't saved as much as they should for a rainy day or retirement.
And, when you consider soaring costs for health care, energy and food – coupled with falling housing prices and stock values – it's easy to see why many worry their retirement savings might run out too soon.
Whether you're rapidly approaching the half-century mark or have already passed it by, here are a few financial questions you should probably be asking yourself:
If you are over 50 and need help thinking through these questions, check out "50 Ways to Love Your Money," a clear and simple guide created by AARP Financial and Chase. It's found at Practical Money Skills for Life, Visa's free personal financial management site (www.practicalmoneyskills.com/boomerguide).
"50 Ways" contains 50 easy-to-follow tips on how to live happily within your means, create and manage a budget and use banking products and other financial services wisely. It also contains web links and phone numbers where you can get more information on a host of important retirement-related topics.
Answering the question about saving enough for retirement, AARP Financial and Chase recommend planning to have 60 to 80 percent of pre-retirement income to maintain your current lifestyle after retirement. How you get there depends on many factors, including:
Many online calculators are available to help you estimate your retirement income needs, like the ones offered by Fidelity Investments (http://personal.fidelity.com/retirement) and Bankrate.com (www.bankrate.com/calculators). Or consult a professional financial planner for a more personalized strategy – www.plannersearch.org can help you locate one.
Even if you're not quite ready for – or able to afford – retirement just yet, it's still a good idea to prepare yourself now so that when the time comes, you won't be caught off guard.
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