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Author: pauleckler Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 1492  
Subject: Re: searching for a better way - Date: 6/30/2011 2:38 PM
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Its not really possible to advise without more details of your circumstances, but most would begin by sitting down and planning out your retirement. How much income do you need to live on? How much will come from social security, pensions, and related sources. Then by difference, how much do you need your investments to provide?

Fools will usually let you spend about 4% of the value of your investments per year on living expenses. So multiply that missing gap by 20 to arrive at the target value of your investments at retirement.

Next you might take a look at your 401K plan. You have made no contributions for two years. How much (what percentage) has its value increased in each year? If it is doing well, fine. If not you might want to look into getting better returns. Are you invested in the right funds?

You can also estimate how much your money will grow by between now and your retirement year. Most would use 8% or so these days as the growth rate for the S&P 500 Index, but over time numbers as high as 11% have been possible. You may also want to estimate how your living expenses will increase between now and retirement.

Then once you get all these numbers together, you can put together a plan. Can you move into lower cost living circumstances and invest profits from sale of your present property? Can you do with fewer vehicles? Can you increase income with a part time job or converting a hobby into a small business? Selling antiques on ebay? Crafts? etc etc.

Finally, once you know what your investments need to do for you, you can make better choices. You probably want to be in equities to keep up with inflation and meet your goals. But if your retirement is well funded you can be more conservative and invest more in bonds or CDs. I would avoid annuities for now--at least until you have your plan put together.

You can find financial planners to do all this for you, but many do it themselves if you are reasonably comfortable with the concepts. And Motley Fool is here to help you with each of the choices.

Rule Your Retirement is one of the Foolish Premium services that specializes in this area. They used to have a worksheet/workbook that talks you through all of these steps and they have had on line workshops to help with individual questions. But many can do this on their own.

Ask away if you have more questions.
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