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October 01, 2015 | retirement

Taking the Guesswork Out of Retirement Planning

Do you know what your retirement will look like? Some will travel the world and see countries they’ve always dreamed about. Others will re-locate to live closer to grandchildren or friends. And some might just want to take time to relax without the stress of worrying about having enough money to live from day-to-day. We want you to have the nest egg you need to retire with the life you want.

Editor of Real Deal Retirement, Walter Updegrave, sat down with Amplify to provide a glimpse into retirement planning.

Below we’ve included an excerpt from our interview with Walter and the following reflects his opinions regarding optimal planning for retirement.

What is the first step for someone planning for retirement?

Paying off debt or only taking on debt through things like home or car purchases is a good first step. Almost everyone is going to incur debt to buy a house or service a car payment at some point, but do not take on more than you need to.

What components should your financial plan include? When should retirement strategy and planning be implemented?

When someone is starting out, they need to begin saving for some sort of an emergency stash through a money market, savings account, or a CD. It’s nice to have this sort of money because if you need it, you can pull it out of this stash and not have to dip into savings or take out debt. Once you’ve established this, it’s important to participate in a retirement savings plan. This is one of the easiest ways to save because money gets taken out automatically, which helps ensure that it won’t get spent.

After you’ve set up an emergency fund and started saving in a retirement plan, you can consider putting money into a safe, secure investment.

What type of investment strategy do you recommend?

On the investing side you want to have a diversified portfolio because over the long term stocks tend to offer the highest returns but can be a higher risk investment. Adding bonds may add some additional stability to your portfolio. First think about net – the younger you are, the more you can afford to have in stocks because you have more room to recover from setbacks. As you get older, you may want to shift toward a more conservative portfolio.

The other thing to consider when investing is returns and investment rates. The market will only deliver a certain amount of returns and unfortunately you can’t predict them. However, you can control what you pay and how much you pay in annual expenses and can look for investments with lower rates. The less you pay in fees, the more of the fund’s return could potentially go toward your retirement goals.

What are some common retirement planning faux pas that you see?

The biggest retirement planning mistake that people make is that they focus too much of their attention on investing. They think that planning for retirement is an investment issue or that there’s an investment solution. The first thing that they really need to do is to figure out how much they should be saving so they can retire.

A reasonable target is about 15 percent of your salary. If this makes you recoil, consider starting with something smaller like 10 percent and then kick it up a percentage point each time you get a raise. I recommend planning for more than you think you’ll need so that if you have an incident where you can’t save for a year or two years – you have a little bit of wiggle room.

Is there a final step to retiring? Or is retiring something that needs to be frequently nurtured?

Once you get started, people do not need to think about their investments every day. It might lead you to take too many moves and tinker with your investments more than you should. Every year or so, re-visit your money and see if you’re on track.

As the Editor of Real Deal Retirement and with over nearly three decades at MONEY Magazine, Walter Updegrave established himself as one of the nation’s foremost experts on retirement planning, investing and personal finance. Walter Updegrave is not affiliated with CUSO Financial Services, L.P. and/ or Amplify Credit Union.


Are you planning for your retirement? Whether you’re fresh out of college and starting your 401K or IRA, taking the next step by speaking with a retirement CFS* advisor at Amplify Wealth Management. Contact us today to learn more about establishing a strong retirement plan.

*Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. The Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members.