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Author: wcfenton Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 75880  
Subject: Re: seeking retirement investments advice Date: 10/17/2005 2:38 PM
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I'd sure appreciate some advice from any of our well-rounded and sage members on our retirement planning concerns. We immigrated to the USA in 1998 with nothing more than some of our household belongings and scraped together just enough cash for a house deposit at the age of 57.

While working in California, we managed to put away the maximum legally allowed tax-delayed and tax-free amounts into a variety of IRAs, SEP's and Roths. Entirely into mutual funds around $130,000, which, these several years later, is still worth around $130,000.

In addition, we recently sold our home in California at a substantial profit of over $360,000 of which we have used about $60,000 for a deposit on a smaller house in Florida for our retirement.

I'm still working at minor consulting projects in Florida but not earning anything close to my California levels. Already past the “retirement” age and past the age when readily “employable”, naturally we're concerned about retirement income.

Have some cash tied up in CD's and money market accounts but still have over $200,000 in cash to invest. If we pull out all of the cash except the IRSs could have as much as $300,000 ready to invest. Shortly before we secured our permanent resident visas for the USA we bought and renovated a Victorian triplex in Toronto, Canada, which has been fully leased, carries a mortgage of around $360,000 and is valued at around $550,000.

In the meantime I carry 3 separate 10-year term life policies each for $250,000, each costing around $1400 per year and expiring in 2008, 2011 and 2014. Renewals on each are too astronomical to contemplate.

Never having the opportunity to invest in or study the stock market, we're really uncertain just what to do with our available money to secure some reasonable level of income over the next few years, which will allow us to survive here. Recently joined the “Rule Your Retirement” group but have not yet acquired the expertise to invest wisely.

Since we have not yet been here for the requisite 10 years and made the needed number of quarterly contributions, we have been advised that neither of us is entitled to Medicare or Social Security. Looks like we're on our own. What should we do?

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Hopefully, someone like Russ will give your situation a look and provide a few suggestions. Russ...are you out there?

I would think seriously about working another three years, if possible, to make the 40 Quarters so that you will be eligible for Social Security and Medicare. The three years would certainly pay for themselves. That's the main issue I see with your situation.

Secondly, there are a few places that you could begin investing some of your hard earned cash, one of which might be Series I Savings Bonds. You would need to study these first before making any decisions. Everything is a tradeoff in this world:

https://www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/research/indepth/ibonds/res_ibonds.htm

Both you and your wife can conribute as much as $30,000 per year in I Bonds. Your principal is safe and they are currently offering 4.8% with that to probably increase November 1st. The trade-off is that you can not make withdrawals until the purcashed bonds have been invested for one year.

Another area I would look towards would be the Vanguard Family of funds:

https://flagship3.vanguard.com/VGApp/hnw/HomepageOverview

They are the low-cost leader of both actively managed and passively managed funds. Not knowing what type of investments you have in your IRAs makes any futher suggestions pretty difficult.

One fund that is very good, as far as taxable index funds go, is The Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSMX). Others you may want to investigate are called Tax-Managed Funds which are also pretty good choices in a taxable account.

Just keep things as simple as possible. Maybe just a three-fund portfolio utilizing the broad markets (Total Stock, Total Bond & Total International) along with a good Money Market Account and a few CDs.

Best of luck...
Bill


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