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Archive for October, 2008

When Should I Start Retirement Planning?

October 31st, 2008 at 06:04 am

It is never too early to start retirement planning. The earlier you start to plan for your retirement the better off you will be. When time is on your side, your superannuation or any other investment you make has time to grow, interest has time to compound and real estate has time to appreciate in value. You have time to weather a few downturns in the economy or the share market when you start retirement planning early.

The biggest problem is that the younger you are the less you think about retirement planning. It seems to be a million light years away. You just want to get out there and have fun - and that means spending money, not saving it. And as you get older there are other major purchases such as a car and home that need your attention first. But even then, if you can put aside a small amount every so often to go towards your retirement you will be better off in the long run.

The best time to plan for your retirement is when you start your first job. Even children at school who have part-time jobs should be encouraged to think of retirement planning. If they saved just $500 to invest in a retirement plan and didn’t touch it for the rest of their lives, they would be astonished when they got older by how much it had grown. Children and young people who have no debt, could save a great deal more than they realise. Their trouble is that mostly they want to spend, not save.

You might have found it impossible to save for retirement planning while paying off your mortgage and educating the kids, but now all that is over and paid off, you are looking forward to having money to spend for yourself. You could go for a holiday or do up the house. You might think it’s too late to do any retirement planning now, but this is not so. Even a few years spent in saving towards your retirement will make a big difference to your comfort when you stop working.

So while the best option for retirement planning is to start young, your next best option is now, today, before it gets any later. Knowing that your

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retirement planning is well under way will give you peace of mind and a feeling of independence

10 Things You Should Know About Retirement Planning

October 31st, 2008 at 05:14 am

Those who don't bother about retirement planning are just asking for trouble in their golden years. What should be years of enjoyable leisure will be spent in fretting and penny-pinching - all because you didn't want to plan for the future. Make up your mind that’s not going to be you! Find out all you can about retirement planning. Here are ten things to start you off.

1. You should start retirement planning as early as possible. However, if you've left it, late is better than never. You can still make a difference if you start now.

2. Retirement planning can be a great deal easier and more successful if you get advice from a professional. Sure, you have to pay them, but their advice will likely save you money and make you extra that you'd never have made without it, so they are worth their fee.

3. One form of retirement planning is not enough. Diversify your funds into several different companies, then if one fails you won't lose everything.

4. Don't just set and forget. Check those investments on a regular basis. Doing this will ensure that any assets that look sick can be changed to more of those that are doing well.

5. You can get tax-free or tax effective retirement accounts so why not take advantage of them? Saving on tax is a legitimate way of saving money too.

6. Many people use their retirement account as a fallback account. If an unexpected bill arrives, they dip into their retirement account. This is the best way to mess up your retirement planning. Leave it alone and let it grow.

7. Retirement planning should take account of how much per month and per year it will cost you to live during your retirement. You cannot make an adequate retirement plan if you don't know how much you will need.

8. Many retirement plans rely on Social Security. How do you know it will still be there in the future?

9. Don't forget the 'i' word - inflation. Planning how much you need to live on this year will not be helpful by the time you retire, when inflation has caused all costs to rise a great deal more.

10. Factor in the death of one spouse to your retirement planning. Will the remaining partner have enough to live on? Does each of you know the ropes sufficiently to manage if the other should die?

Once you've considered everything and a retirement plan is in hand, both of you will gain peace of mind, knowing that the other will be cared for financially. Going through your retirement years without your partner is bad enough without having to worry about your finances as well.

Financial Advice for School Leavers

October 31st, 2008 at 03:20 am

Most school leavers don't have a great deal of money, so they have to be careful what they spend. If you are heading off to university, you may be even more worried that you won’t have enough money to see you through. But there are ways and means of saving what you have - or at least making it go further. Read on for some financial advice.

The cost of accommodation is one of the biggest for all school leavers. The best financial advice on accommodation is if you are able to stay at home for a few years, then do so, even if you pay your parents a small sum to help cover costs and food. If your Uni is too far to travel to daily, then living on campus is usually cheaper than getting private accommodation. There are often houses around a university that are let to students on a share basis. You may have to share with up to five other people, but these are often work out a bit cheaper than leasing a whole flat to yourself. If you do get a private flat, see if you can share the space and costs with a friend.

Get some financial advice about budgeting if you’ve never done it before. There is plenty of free financial advice online that covers many things as well as budgeting. Budgeting not only means spending wisely, it may mean not spending at all for those treats you can do without, such as alcohol and cigarettes and yes, even chocolate. Getting the most bang for your buck is important too.

Shopping for food near to closing time will often get you bargains that were not available earlier in the day. Buying in bulk - combining with other students - is also a way of saving money. Buy clothing and other items only when it is on sale or discounted with a two for one special.

Take advantage of the Uni's financial advice as far as fees go. They have advisors that will work out a plan with you that will see you through. Books are often a big cost, but you don’t need to rush out and buy them all on the first day. Some will be available through the library; others you’ll be able to purchase second hand from last year’s students.

Following the financial advice of professionals, whether from an online source or offline is very important. You can listen to much financial advice, but unless you put it into practice there will be no benefit from it.

Make Fear Your Investment Friend

October 9th, 2008 at 05:20 am

One of the biggest fears most of us have is losing our money. After working long and hard to earn it, that is only natural, but it is one thing that prevents some people from investing in the share market. Everyone who watches the news will see how the value of shares in even blue chip companies seems to rise and fall like the ocean tide recently. As soon as values fall, many shareholders start looking to sell their shares and get out before they lose any more.

Experts in stock broking tell us that we should do the opposite, making this fear our friend instead of the enemy. In other words, investors should look to increase their investment portfolio in times when the bottom seems to be falling out of the market. Buying real estate property when the value is low is what the experts do; they know that the market will gradually rise again and they’ll be able to sell for a better profit than if they bought when the price was high.

So buying shares when they are of low value makes sense. Traditionally, the share market has kept on rising, even though there are periods of lows, just like in the real estate cycle of boom, plateau and fall. A wise investor will jump in and buy up all those low value stocks and shares when everyone else is scrambling to get off what they perceive as a sinking ship. He will get them for a low price and then the value will start to rise again, making his investment worth far more than it would have been if he bought in times when the share market is booming.

Stock broking experts tell us the oldest rule for investing is to buy low and sell high. The easiest way to do this is to buy during a recession, when the prices are low. An investment portfolio set up during such a time is sure to be a profitable one because it has two sources of increase. As the recession loses its momentum and the economy picks up, the value of the stocks and shares will increase. And there will be the natural growth increase of the companies they invest in. So next time the share market news seems to be all doom and gloom, make fear your friend and buy a few of those low-priced shares to add to your investment portfolio.

You Dont Have to be Rich to Retire on a Guaranteed Income for Life

October 9th, 2008 at 05:06 am

Most of us dream of the day we retire - especially if that retirement also means we have a guaranteed income for life without working for it. To some this is an impossible dream, but it can happen if we take the proper steps beforehand. What do we have to do to make the dream a reality?

Investing in managed funds could be the answer. You don’t need a lot of money to invest in a managed fund. Some let you start with as little as $500, others prefer twice that amount. In today’s climate, nearly everyone can save that. Even those who have no job can find ways to save a little at a time until they have the necessary amount. So what if it takes a whole year - or even two?

With a managed fund, lots of investors pool their money and the fund manager invests it for them. This is the easiest and simplest way anyone can start to save for their future. The profits from the initial investment must be ploughed back into the fund of course, otherwise it will all be spent on present needs or wants. But after a lifetime of re-investing the profits there will be a significant amount to retire on. And those who are wise enough to see the benefits will continue to save for investment purposes so that the initial deposit will swell a great deal over time.

Self-managed superannuation is another option for making the dream come true. This option should not be taken up lightly as there is a lot of work involved with running a self-managed superannuation fund. You will have to be the trustee and you are directly accountable for everything that happens to the fund.

The responsibilities of a trustee are many. There are strict guidelines that you must comply with and failure will bring down the wrath of the tax office upon your head. You must lodge both an income tax return and a superannuation fund return on an annual basis. As well, there must be superannuation member contribution statements lodged every year. An approved auditor must be appointed to do an audit annually. And records must be kept for ten years. There are also restrictions on investments that must be complied with.

In fact, many people feel that the amount of work involved is not worth the benefit and so go with managed funds. Unless you have experience and plenty of time, this is a good decision.