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Planning your retirement

We've all heard of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), from the Social Security Administration. For those who haven't, it's basically the government's scheme whereby they take a percentage of your salary now, and then give it back when you are old and retired. But, we've all also heard the rumors that the money will be gone in the next fifty years or so. Personally, I don't want make ends meet by working as a Wal-Mart greeter when I'm seventy-five years old. I plan to avoid this by my own 'SSI' plan.

Save whenever possible

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It's like money in the bank, literally! If you don't have a savings account, get one. You can open a free savings account with most online banks, in a matter of minutes. Interest rates, while not anything to get excited about, can vary dramatically from bank to bank so shop around. Then, commit to saving a percentage of your income every month; I save 7%, and I recommend a minimum of 5%. At the very least, saving regularly and seeing your account grow is a psychological boost in terms of the peace of mind you get from knowing that you have a safety net.

Spend as little as possible

Now, I'm not saying that you have to live on bread and water, but I'm suggesting that you take a close look at your current expenses and cut out waste. For instance, I cut my cable a few years ago when I realized that I spent only about an hour or two each week watching television. That alone saved me about $50/month or about $600/year; I now had extra money for saving, investing, or spending. In addition to examining your current expenses, I strongly endorse the practice of using online shopping and using discount codes whenever possible. These practices save both time and money (and remember, time is money, and in some cases more important than money). I recently took a vacation, and booked my airline ticket, hotel, rental car, and restaurant reservations online in a fraction of the time it would have taken me to call or visit various vendors. I also easily found and used discount codes, saving myself hundreds.

Invest as much as possible

In my opinion, the two best investments are real estate and mutual funds, and if I had to choose between them, I'd go with mutual funds. I suggest that in the same way you commit to a savings account, you match that amount with a contribution to a mutual fund account. Now, in terms of picking mutual funds, remember what I've said about a chimpanzee throwing darts? If not, see my very first article. Basically, while I can offer suggestions, only you can pick the portfolio that is right for you. There are so many factors to consider, such as age, desired income, level of acceptable risk, and so on. Although it's a somewhat complicated process, nothing is worse than dong nothing. At the very least, open an online trading account, do some research, and dive in.

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Posted in Investing Post Date 01/05/2016