While winter weather can make going outside seem less than inviting, you can entertain your family indoors with your favorite movies and shows in a home theater. With a little help, your theater setup might make the cold a little more bearable. Here are six must-haves for your home theater.
1. Theater Seating
Comfortable leather recliners with cushy armrests are a staple of any home theater. The amount of seats is reliant on the size of your space; viewers shouldnât feel too cramped. Also, the distance you place them from your screen dependsÂ on the screenâs size. An easy way to determine seat distance is to take the horizontal length of your screen and multiply it by two to get the minimum distance. Multiply it by five to get the maximum distance. For example: A 60-inch screen would have a minimum distance of 120 inches, or ten feet, and a maximum distance of 300 inches, or 25 feet.
2. Video Projector
Installing a quality video projector can ensure that you and your viewers enjoy the best picture possible. Pay attention to the projectorâs throw distance, or the distance at which it should be placed away from your screen. Also, consider how far down you should hang your projector and at what angle to tilt it. Most projectors have vertical lens shift, which allows you to adjust the projection regardless of how you mount your projector. For those that donât, hang your projector with an extension pipe so that you can adjust the hanging distance to perfect the projected image.
3. Projector Screen and Lighting
For screen placement, pick a wall where light does not fall on it directly. You can even paint your walls a dark color to avoid glare. Mount the screen on your wall so the bottom is between two or three feet off the ground. This helps every seat in your theater achieve the perfect view. Try adding dimmable overhead lights to add an authentic cinema feeling.
4. Surround Sound
The most common speaker system for home theaters is 5.1 surround sound. This six-speaker system is comprised of five full-range speakers and one low-range speaker known as the woofer. The ideal setup for 5.1 surround sound is three speakers and the woofer toward the front of the room, with the remaining two on either side of the back end of the room. Place each speaker at least 20 inches from the wall. If six speakers seemÂ excessive, try a simple three speaker setup with a speaker in front of your screen and two others to the left and right.
5. Sound Paneling and Acoustics
Rectangular windowless rooms generally have better acoustics than square ones, but you might not be able to remodel just for your home theater. Sound absorption panels to prevent echoes, although standard dry wall paneling is usually adequate acoustic material for home theaters. Installing carpeting may also improve the acoustics of your in-home theater and add a level of comfort for viewers.
6. Mini Fridge
Keep a small refrigerator in your home theater and stock it with refreshments that are easily accessible. After all, you wonât have to stand in line and worry about missing your movie when youâre home! You may also want to stock old movie favorites like popcorn and candy in a non-refrigerated unit in the theater. Just donât eat too loudly during the movie.
With these home theater features, being snowed in this winter might not seem so bad!
The post 6 Essentials for an In-Home Movie Theater first appeared on Century 21Â®.
Maybe you want to lose those stubborn 10 pounds, score a big promotion or run your first marathon. Whatever your priority, it all starts with setting a goal.
Financial priorities are no different. Whether you want to save for your child’s college education or get yourself out of debt, budgeting to help reach your financial goals allows you to determine what’s most important to you, make a plan to attain those goals and hold yourself accountable for success.
Still, when it comes to managing your money, knowing how to set financial goals and sticking to them can feel like opposite sides of the same coin. You might even find yourself asking, “How do I create a simple budget to reach my financial goals?” If you follow these three steps, you could be crossing the finish line in record time:
1. Pick a day to get started
Sometimes the hardest part of tackling a new project is simply getting started, especially if your to-do list feels like it’s never ending. There’s always tomorrow, or the day after that… right? To create a simple budget to help you reach your financial goals, pick a day and time to get started. Consider picking a time when you do your best thinking, are most focused and least likely to get interrupted. Maybe it’s Sunday morning over breakfast and coffee before kicking off a day of chores or on a weeknight after the kids go to bed.
Once you’ve landed on the best time to sit down and create a simple budget, add it to the calendar and schedule reminders on your computer or phone to hold yourself accountable.
2. Create a simple budget, however complex your finances
Chances are your finances are pretty complicated, with lots of moving parts. Things seem to be moving along nicely with your regular expenses like rent, groceries, transportation and entertainment… and then your carburetor goes kaput in your car and you must replace it right away. Or that toothache has become unbearable and requires a root canalâand you’ll have to cover some of the expense out of pocket. Just when you’re finally making a dent in paying down your debt and getting your finances on track, life throws you some curveballs. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create a simple budget.
One of the easiest ways to create a simple budget and stay on track is to follow the 50-20-30 rule:
50 percent of your income should address your needs, such as housing, utilities, healthcare and transportation;
20 percent should be put toward your financial goals, like building your savings and paying off debt;
30 percent should cover your wants or discretionary expenses, like shopping, entertainment and dining out.
Managing your finances with the 50-20-30 is a good first step when you’re first learning how to create a budget, but trying to deal with multiple financial goals within that 20 percent bucket can be overwhelming. When it comes to budgeting to help reach your financial goals, certified financial planner Jim White suggests taking your financial goals one step at a time.
“Make a simple plan to tackle debtâor maybe just one debtâthen when that goal is accomplished, work on a simple plan for the next debt,” White suggests. “A bunch of small victories goes a long way to changing your financial discipline and gives you a boost to keep moving forward,” White adds.
Similar to how you picked a day to begin the budgeting process, make a habit out of managing your finances by picking one day of the week and checking in with yourself at a scheduled time. After about two months, budgeting to help reach your financial goals can become habit forming. “When you focus on your goals on the same day every week, you are creating a habit, and a pattern, to follow,” says Karen Ford, financial coach and motivational speaker.
Budgeting to help reach your financial goals becomes even more effective when you’re reviewing your priorities every seven days and making adjustments to your spending and saving as needed.
“Make a simple plan to tackle debtâor maybe just one debtâthen when that goal is accomplished, work on a simple plan for the next debt. A bunch of small victories goes a long way to changing your financial discipline and gives you a boost to keep moving forward.”
3. Automate your financial plan
Now that you know how to set financial goalsâwhether it’s paying down debt, saving up for a car or putting money away for retirementâwhat’s next? Time to get moving! One way to do that is to automate your finances. By setting up automatic bill pay and account transfers, it will be easier to stick to your plan for paying monthly expenses and contributing to savings.
When it comes to paying your bills and learning how to set financial goals, consider automating the bills that you pay regularly, especially those that fall within the 50 percent budget category that covers your living essentials. To gain momentum with your savings progress, set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account for the amount you wish to save each month. If your financial goal is retirement, you could even set up automatic transfers to an individual retirement account (IRA) so you’re consistently making progress. You could also arrange to have a portion of your paycheck automatically go into savingsâbefore you even have time to miss it.
By making automatic contributions to your savings accounts, you are “subscribing to the idea of paying yourself first,” says Riley Adams, CPA and blogger for Young and the Invested, a professional’s guide to financial independence. “By doing this, it removes the temptation to spend and takes any lack of discipline out of the picture,” Adams says.
Keep in mind that any time you automate your finances as part of creating a simple budget, you should monitor your accounts regularly. Check in to make sure your automated settings are up to date, that you always have the funds available in your accounts to cover your expenses and transfers and that your savings are growing according to your plan.
How to set financial goals in 3 steps
Once you find time to focus on your finances, create a simple budget and automate your payments and transfers, budgeting to help reach your financial goals is one habit that is sure to stick. By following these three rules and keeping yourself on track, you’ll be ready to build a solid foundation for your financial future.
The post How to Set Financial Goalsâand Crush Them appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
Having medical supplies in your apartment just makes good sense. A well-stocked first-aid kit can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies, according to the Mayo Clinic . Especially when an urgent need for an adhesive bandage or ice pack happens.
Why not be prepared and tailor a first aid kit to meet your everyday needs? A homemade first aid kit for minor emergencies lets you pick and choose all the must-haves. It doesn’t need to cost a slew of bucks either. Start your medicinal scavenger hunt at your local dollar store, where you’ll likely be surprised by the inventory.
The first step, determine your budget. Spend between $10 and $20 and have plenty of handy essentials right at your fingertips. Your first aid kit can be easily stored neatly in a pantry, or beneath the sink in your kitchen or bathroom.
We’ve organized a list of basics to help you get your homemade first aid kit ready for use.
1. Pain relievers
Generic-brand pain relievers come in many formats such as gel, lotion and patches. Use pain relievers for headaches and to reduce swelling. Find them for less at discount stores.
You can also look for brand name pain relievers at your favorite big-box retailer, drug store or pharmacy. If you have a rewards card at your drug store, you can also look for two-for-one deals on the pain relievers that work best for you.
2. Reusable ice packs
Reusable ice packs, which you can store in the freezer, are musts for your first aid kit. They should be your go-to to reduce swelling from bumps and twists.
If you need an ice pack immediately but don’t have one that’s cold, make an investment and buy instant cold packs. They’re easy to use: Snap the seal inside or squeeze the pack and they get cold in an instant! Just be sure to look for ones that are non-toxic.
3. Protective gloves
Be cautious about cleanliness. Try to keep a wound that requires attention clean of germs by picking up non-latex gloves. Look for deals. Sometimes, they come in multi-packs.
4. Minor wound dressing
Think of what you might need to dress minor wounds from accidental falls or burns from cooking. The list could include:
Cute band-aids for littles
Bandage strips and “butterfly” bandages in assorted sizes
5. Hydrogen peroxide
You can shop for hydrogen peroxide at the dollar store of choice. You can also save there on musts like hand sanitizer and non-latex gloves for whoever is administering the first aid.
Be sure to have items you use every day, including cotton balls and swabs. They’ll serve double-duty in the bathroom for everything from ear cleaning to makeup removal.
Look for tweezers for splinter removal in the health and beauty section. Get small scissors for cutting bandages or gauze to the right length, too.
To know for sure if someone is running a fever, you should pick up a thermometer and add it to the kit’s mix. Some digital varieties even come with disposable plastic sleeves. These are great if you have more than one child whose temperature must be taken.
9. First aid box or case
Check the automotive and household aisles and you might score a small, sectioned case with a snap-lock to store everything in.
10. First aid manual
It’s also helpful to include a first aid manual in your kit as a guide for treating minor injuries and wounds. Look for one with instructions on performing CPR and diagrams of how to perform the Heimlich maneuver, in the event of choking.
Need more stuff?
For more extensive homemade first aid kits, you’ll probably have to stray outside the bounds of the dollar store. Head to your local pharmacy or supermarket to pick up extra items.
Now that you’ve created a first aid kit for your apartment, you’re a pro! Create a second first aid kit to keep in your car. You never know when it could come in handy.
The post 10 Essentials for a Homemade First Aid Kit appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.
There is no doubt that COVID-19 has affected the financial security of millions of Americans.
A September 2020 NPR poll found that nearly half of U.S. households experienced job loss or pay cuts during the pandemic. Fifty-four percent with annual incomes below $100,000 suffered the most serious financial problems.
However, as the situation deteriorated for many, a subset of individuals assumed newfound control over their economic well-being. The pandemic became their trigger to make powerful changes with the way they handled money, credit, income and savings.
Here’s how just a few people refused to let severe and unexpected pandemic-related conditions get them down.
Taking financial control amid a global pandemic
Improved charging habits
Starting over after a job loss
Building a better budget
Increased saving and investing
Improved charging habits
According to an October Money and Morning Consult survey, 29% of credit card holders have been charging more than they had been before the pandemic, particularly on food and self-care items.
For some, like Raul Mercado from Austin, Texas, a freelance digital marketing professional, that didn’t mean acquiring high balances, but using the cards more effectively than ever before.
Mercado’s partner has been furloughed from both of her jobs, and his pay was cut by a third in the span of one month. In response, they changed the way they had been charging. The couple decided to make their cards work for, rather than against, them.
“My partner purchased an online course called ‘Credit Cards 101,’ and we learned the best way to use credit cards,” says Mercado. “We started using credit cards that included airline miles or cash back bonuses for all purchases so we could get additional resources from spending the same amount of money. Of course, we pay back our credit cards every week so we don’t go into debt. And because of all the closures around town, we are able to save significant amounts from not going out on date nights or expensive vacations.”
Now the couple is looking forward to using the rewards when travel is once again an option. They’ll stick with their new card strategy, though, since it allows them to profit from the process.
A positive aspect of the pandemic is that it made many people reevaluate how they’re handing their existing financial obligations. In fact, Experian reported an unprecedented consumer debt reduction in 2020. Outstanding credit card balances dropped by 9% from 2019, representing over $73 billion in repaid balances.
Steve Morrow, a Phoenix-based CPA and founder of the kayaking blog Paddle About, and his wife slashed their liabilities over the past 10 months. They had a combination of obligations, including a car loan, home equity loan and credit card debt.
another round of stimulus checks, he will apply it to their emergency fund. In the meantime, he’s also using this time to educate their children.
“We have two teenagers and we’ve been having a lot of conversations with them about finances,” says Morrow. “In fact, one of my sons is taking a personal finance class in high school, and it’s been great to talk to him about our experiences with credit cards.”
See related: Financial bias starts early: How to talk to your daughter about finances
Starting over after job loss
Before COVID struck, Justin Duke had been driving and delivering for such companies as Uber and Instacart. “Then it all basically stopped,” says Duke. “I lost the main source of income that I had and didn’t know if or when it would be safe to do the gig work again, or what would happen with the stimulus. I had to pivot and find a new income.”
So, Duke and his wife, who live in a rural community outside Roanoke, Virginia, turned their attention to the business of raising goats and chickens. At the start of the pandemic, selling the animals and eggs via MrAnimal Farm generated a little side cash. Today, along with working a few other e-commerce and review sites, the couple is earning three times what they had been before.
“We have a safe way to make money that we have more control over,” says Duke. “We’re financially stable and are in control! Our holiday spending this year won’t change, but the goal for 2021 is to be able to purchase a second house with the online income.”
Duke is hardly alone in his quest for earnings independence. In October, the Census Bureau reported that applications for federal employer identification numbers had surged – by July, they were up an astonishing 91%, compared to the same time frame in 2019.
Building a better budget
Insecure salaries inspired other people to reevaluate how much money was going out each month, and then make powerful changes to ensure that there was enough to meet essentials. Such was the case for Jonathan Sanchez, an Omaha, Nebraska-based personal finance blogger for Parent Portfolio, a wealth building website for families.
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“Due to the economic stress caused by the pandemic, I was furloughed from my full-time job,” says Sanchez. “This put the weight of supplying for our family solely on my wife. Initially, it was depressing for me not to be able to work as well and was hard for my wife.”
Eventually, though, he decided to use this opportunity to assess their cash flow plan to get them closer to financial independence.
“We updated our budget and became more intentional with our money,” says Sanchez. “Before, what we were doing was not budgeting but spending and thinking we should have enough until the next paycheck. We never set limits – now we do. ‘Only this much for groceries, this much for dining’ kind of thing. It helped us become more mindful. For a whole summer, I stayed home with my daughter who was in daycare, so we didn’t have that expense either, so that was like a mortgage payment!”
The couple refinanced their primary residence to reduce those payments, then purchased a house as an investment property to generate passive income. They then deleted a large portion of their student loan debt and are working toward building up a sizable savings fund.
“Now that we have a budget in place, we’re not worried about money anymore,” says Sanchez. “My wife actively looks at our budget three times a week. It’s a habit we will continue on forever!”
See related: How to stop overspending during the coronavirus pandemic
Increased saving and investing
And then there are people who have found a way to increase their net worth, despite recent economic hardship. Christen Thomas, a personal finance expert and founder of the travel advice website TravelWanderGrow, has managed to create wealth.
Thomas has always been budget-savvy, but the pandemic prompted her to take a harder look at the way she had been preparing for her financial future that extends far beyond the next 12 months.
“It’s the year I’ve moved beyond the budget,” says Thomas. “I’ve started doing much more focused research into the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) movement, and have adjusted my long-term investment strategy accordingly. This has led me to move from investing around 10% of my income to 20%. I plan to grow this rate to 50% over the next few years as I pay down my student loans more aggressively and cut certain expenses.”
Miller & Company, LLP, the pandemic switched something crucial but latent in many people. They’ve found ways to thrive, when it hadn’t been necessary before. People discovered their inner strength and knowledge that they can perservere under extremely difficult conditions. Many fought to budget their money for the first time.
“The pandemic grounded a lot of people,” says Miller. “It helped them develop character. Americans are resolved to figure it out. Ultimately, it taught millions of us how to rescue ourselves, and that even in the bad times, there is good.”
Certainly not everybody has been able to regroup and overcome financial adversity in 2020, but it’s worth taking inspiration from those who have.
You probably donât need us to tell you that the earlier you start saving for retirement, the better. But letâs face it: For a lot of people, the problem isnât that they donât understand how compounding works. They start saving late because their paychecks will only stretch so far.
Whether youâre in your 20s or your golden years are fast-approaching, saving and investing whatever you can will help make your retirement more comfortable. Weâll discuss how to save for retirement during each decade, along with the hurdles you may face at different stages of life.
How Much Should You Save for Retirement?
A good rule of thumb is to save between 10% and 20% of pre-tax income for retirement. But the truth is, the actual amount you need to save for retirement depends on a lot of factors, including:
Your age. If you get a late start, youâll need to save more.
Whether your employer matches contributions. The 10% to 20% guideline includes your employerâs match. So if your employer matches your contributions dollar-for-dollar, you may be able to get away with less.
How aggressively you invest. Taking more risk usually leads to larger returns, but your losses will be steeper if the stock market tanks.
How long you plan to spend in retirement. Itâs impossible to predict how long youâll be able to work or how long youâll live. But if you plan to retire early or people in your family often live into their mid-90s, youâll want to save more.
How to Save for Retirement at Every Age
Now that youâre ready to start saving, hereâs a decade-by-decade breakdown of savings strategies and how to make your retirement a priority.
Saving for Retirement in Your 20s
A dollar invested in your 20s is worth more than a dollar invested in your 30s or 40s. The problem: When youâre living on an entry-level salary, you just donât have that many dollars to invest, particularly if you have student loan debt.
Prioritize Your 401(k) Match
If your company offers a 401(k) plan, a 403(b) plan or any retirement account with matching contributions, contribute enough to get the full match â unless of course you wouldnât be able to pay bills as a result. The stock market delivers annual returns of about 8% on average. But if your employer gives you a 50% match, youâre getting a 50% return on your contribution before your money is even invested. Thatâs free money no investor would ever pass up.
Pay off High-Interest Debt
After getting that employer match, focus on tackling any high-interest debt. Those 8% average annual stock market returns pale in comparison to the average 16% interest rate for people who have credit card debt. In a typical year, youâd expect aÂ $100 investment could earn you $8. Put that $100 toward your balance? Youâre guaranteed to save $16.
Take More Risks
Look, weâre not telling you to throw your money into risky investments like bitcoin or the penny stock your cousin wonât shut up about. But when you start investing, youâll probably answer some questions to assess your risk tolerance. Take on as much risk as you can mentally handle, which means youâll invest mostly in stocks with a small percentage in bonds. Donât worry too much about a stock market crash. Missing out on growth is a bigger concern right now.
Build Your Emergency Fund
Building an emergency fund that could cover your expenses for three to six months is a great way to safeguard your retirement savings. That way you wonât need to tap your growing nest egg in a cash crunch. This isnât money you should have invested, though. Keep it in a high-yield savings account, a money market account or a certificate of deposit (CD).
Tame Lifestyle Inflation
We want you to enjoy those much-deserved raises ahead of you â but keep lifestyle inflation in check. Donât spend every dollar each time your paycheck gets higher. Commit to investing a certain percentage of each raise and then use the rest as you please.
Saving for Retirement in Your 30s
If youâre just starting to save in your 30s, the picture isnât too dire. You still have about three decades left until retirement, but itâs essential not to delay any further. Saving may be a challenge now, though, if youâve added kids and homeownership to the mix.
Invest in an IRA
Opening a Roth IRA is a great way to supplement your savings if youâve only been investing in your 401(k) thus far. A Roth IRA is a solid bet because youâll get tax-free money in retirement.
In both 2020 and 2021, you can contribute up to $6,000, or $7,000 if youâre over 50. The deadline to contribute isnât until tax day for any given year, so you can still make 2020 contributions until April 15, 2021. If you earn too much to fund a Roth IRA, or you want the tax break now (even though it means paying taxes in retirement), you can contribute to a traditional IRA.
Your investment options with a 401(k) are limited. But with an IRA, you can invest in whatever stocks, bonds, mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) you choose.
If you or your spouse isnât working but you can afford to save for retirement, consider a spousal IRA. Itâs a regular IRA, but the working spouse funds it for the non-earning spouse.Â
Avoid Mixing Retirement Money With Other Savings
Youâre allowed to take a 401(k) loan for a home purchase. The Roth IRA rules give you the flexibility to use your investment money for a first-time home purchase or college tuition. Youâre also allowed to withdraw your contributions whenever you want. Wait, though. That doesnât mean you should.
The obvious drawback is that youâre taking money out of the market before itâs had time to compound. But thereâs another downside. Itâs hard to figure out if youâre on track for your retirement goals when your Roth IRA is doing double duty as a college savings account or down payment fund.
Start a 529 Plan While Your Kids Are Young
Saving for your own future takes higher priority than saving for your kidsâ college. But if your retirement funds are in shipshape, opening a 529 plan to save for your childrenâs education is a smart move. Not only will you keep the money separate from your nest egg, but by planning for their education early, youâll avoid having to tap your savings for their needs later on.
Keep Investing When the Stock Market Crashes
The stock market has a major meltdown like the March 2020 COVID-19 crash about once a decade. But when a crash happens in your 30s, itâs often the first time you have enough invested to see your net worth take a hit. Donât let panic take over. No cashing out. Commit to dollar-cost averaging and keep investing as usual, even when youâre terrified.
Saving for Retirement in Your 40s
If youâre in your 40s and started saving early, you may have a healthy nest egg by now. But if youâre behind on your retirement goals, now is the time to ramp things up. You still have plenty of time to save, but youâve missed out on those early years of compounding.
Continue Taking Enough Risk
You may feel like you can afford less investment risk in your 40s, but you still realistically have another two decades left until retirement. Your money still has â and needs â plenty of time to grow. Stay invested mostly in stocks, even if itâs more unnerving than ever when you see the stock market tank.
Put Your Retirement Above Your Kidsâ College Fund
You can only afford to pay for your kidsâ college if youâre on track for retirement. Talk to your kids early on about what you can afford, as well their options for avoiding massive student loan debt, including attending a cheaper school, getting financial aid, and working while going to school. Your options for funding your retirement are much more limited.
Keep Your Mortgage
Mortgage rates are historically low â well below 3% as of December 2020. Your potential returns are much higher for investing, so youâre better off putting extra money into your retirement accounts. If you havenât already done so, consider refinancing your mortgage to get the lowest rate.
Invest Even More
Now is the time to invest even more if you can afford to. Keep getting that full employer 401(k) match. Beyond that, try to max out your IRA contributions. If you have extra money to invest on top of that, consider allocating more to your 401(k). Or you could invest in a taxable brokerage account if you want more flexibility on how to invest.
Meet With a Financial Adviser
Youâre about halfway through your working years when youâre in your 40s. Now is a good time to meet with a financial adviser. If you canât afford one, a financial counselor is typically less expensive. Theyâll focus on fundamentals like budgeting and paying off debt, rather than giving investment advice.
Saving for Retirement in Your 50s
By your 50s, those retirement years that once seemed like they were an eternity away are getting closer. Maybe thatâs an exciting prospect â or perhaps it fills you with dread. Whether you want to keep working forever or retirement canât come soon enough, now is the perfect time to start setting goals for when you want to retire and what you want your retirement to look like.
Review Your Asset Allocation
In your 50s, you may want to start shifting more into safe assets, like bonds or CDs. Your money has less time to recover from a stock market crash. Be careful, though. You still want to be invested in stocks so you can earn returns that will keep your money growing. With interest rates likely to stay low through 2023, bonds and CDs probably wonât earn enough to keep pace with inflation.
Take Advantage of Catch-up Contributions
If youâre behind on retirement savings, give your funds a boost using catch-up contributions. In 2020 and 2021, you can contribute:
$1,000 extra to a Roth or traditional IRA (or split the money between the two) once youâre 50
$6,500 extra to your 401(k) once youâre 50
$1,000 extra to a health savings account (HSA) once youâre 55.
Work More if Youâre Behind
Your window for catching up on retirement savings is getting smaller now. So if youâre behind, consider your options for earning extra money to put into your nest egg. You could take on a side hustle, take on freelance work or work overtime if thatâs a possibility to bring in extra cash. Even if you intend to work for another decade or two, many people are forced to retire earlier than they planned. Itâs essential that you earn as much as possible while you can.
Pay off Your Remaining Debt
Since your 50s is often when you start shifting away from high-growth mode and into safer investments, now is a good time to use extra money to pay off lower-interest debt, including your mortgage. Retirement will be much more relaxing if you can enjoy it debt-free.
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Saving for Retirement in Your 60s
Hooray, youâve made it! Hopefully your retirement goals are looking attainable by now after working for decades to get here. But you still have some big decisions to make. Someone in their 60s in 2021 could easily spend another two to three decades in retirement. Your challenge now is to make that hard-earned money last as long as possible.
Make a Retirement Budget
Start planning your retirement budget at least a couple years before you actually retire. Financial planners generally recommend replacing about 70% to 80% of your pre-retirement income. Common income sources for seniors include:
Social Security benefits. Monthly benefits replace about 40% of pre-retirement income for the average senior.
Retirement account withdrawals. Money you take out from your retirement accounts, like your 401(k) and IRA.
Defined-benefit pensions. These are increasingly rare in the private sector, but still somewhat common for those retiring from a career in public service.
Annuities. Though controversial in the personal finance world, an annuity could make sense if youâre worried about outliving your savings.
Other investment income. Some seniors supplement their retirement and Social Security income with earnings from real estate investments or dividend stocks, for example.
Part-time work. A part-time job can help you delay dipping into your retirement savings account, giving your money more time to grow.
You can plan on some expenses going away. You wonât be paying payroll taxes or making retirement contributions, for example, and maybe your mortgage will be paid off. But you generally donât want to plan for any budget cuts that are too drastic.
Even though some of your expenses will decrease, health care costs eat up a large chunk of senior income, even once youâre eligible for Medicare coverage â and they usually increase much faster than inflation.
Develop Your Social Security Strategy
You can take your Social Security benefits as early as 62 or as late as age 70. But the earlier you take benefits, the lower your monthly benefits will be. If your retirement funds are lacking, delaying as long as you can is usually the best solution. Taking your benefit at 70 vs. 62 will result in monthly checks that are about 76% higher. However, if you have significant health problems, taking benefits earlier may pay off.
Use Social Securityâs Retirement Estimator to estimate what your monthly benefit will be.
Figure Out How Much You Can Afford to Withdraw
Once youâve made your retirement budget and estimated how much Social Security youâll receive, you can estimate how much youâll be able to safely withdraw from your retirement accounts. A common retirement planning guideline is the 4% rule: You withdraw no more than 4% of your retirement savings in the first year, then adjust the amount for inflation.
If you have a Roth IRA, you can let that money grow as long as you want and then enjoy it tax-free. But youâll have to take required minimum distributions, or RMDs, beginning at age 72 if you have a 401(k) or a traditional IRA. These are mandatory distributions based on your life expectancy. The penalties for not taking them are stiff: Youâll owe the IRS 50% of the amount you were supposed to withdraw.
Keep Investing While Youâre Working
Avoid taking money out of your retirement accounts while youâre still working. Once youâre over age 59 Â½, you wonât pay an early withdrawal penalty, but you want to avoid touching your retirement funds for as long as possible.
Instead, continue to invest in your retirement plans as long as youâre still earning money. But do so cautiously. Keep money out of the stock market if youâll need it in the next five years or so, since your money doesnât have much time to recover from a stock market crash in your 60s.
A Final Thought: Make Your Retirement About You
Whether youâre still working or youâre already enjoying your golden years, this part is essential: You need to prioritize you. That means your retirement savings goals need to come before bailing out family members, or paying for college for your children and grandchildren. After all, no one else is going to come to the rescue if you get to retirement with no savings.
If youâre like most people, youâll work for decades to get to retirement. The earlier you start planning for it, the more stress-free it will be.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to DearPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.