It’s Official: Time to Plan for Retirement

   National Retirement Planning Week was recently sponsored by the National Retirement Planning Coalition, a group of financial industry organizations whose goal is to educate people on the issues related to saving for retirement. And it seems that many people could benefit from this type of education. In fact, nearly four in 10 workers have not saved anything at all for retirement, according to the 2005 Retirement Confidence Survey, issued by the Employee Benefits Research Institute. 
     Even if you’re among those who have been saving for retirement, you may be able to do still more. Here are a few suggestions:
  * Follow a strategy – What sort of retirement lifestyle do you anticipate? Will you travel around the world or stay close to home? Will you spend your time on the golf course or will you open a small business? Your retirement plans will determine how much you should be saving and what sort of return you’ll need from your investments. To quantify your retirement savings goals, and to create a plan to achieve them, you may want to work with a financial professional. 
* Keep increasing 401(k) contributions – Take full advantage of your employer-sponsored retirement plan (such as a 401(k) if you work for a business, a 457(b) if you work for a state or local government, or a 403(b) if you’re employed by a non-profit group). At the very least, contribute enough to earn your employer’s matching contribution, if one is offered. And every time you get a raise, increase the percentage of your paycheck going to your retirement plan. Your money grows on a tax-deferred basis, which means it will accumulate faster than it would if placed in an investment on which you paid taxes every year. Plus, you typically contribute pre-tax dollars to your plan, so the more you put in, the lower your taxable income. 
* “Max out” on your IRA – Put in the maximum amount to your “traditional” or Roth IRA. For 2005, you can contribute up to $4,000 to your IRA, or $4,500 if you’re 50 or older; in 2006, you can also put in up to $4,000, or $5,000 if you’re 50 or older. A traditional IRA grows on a tax-deferred basis, while a Roth IRA provides tax-free earnings, provided you’ve had your account for at least five years and you don’t begin taking withdrawals until you’re 59 1/2. And you can invest your IRA in virtually any investment you choose: stocks, bonds, government securities, etc. 
* Diversify your holdings – Many people slow their progress toward their retirement savings goals by failing to diversify. If you have a 401(k), don’t concentrate your investment dollars in your employer’s stock; spread them out over the various choices. And, overall, build a diversified portfolio that reflects your time horizon, long-term goals and risk tolerance. 
Submitted By Edward Jones Representative John J. Quinnan II, Investment Representative, 12900 Old US 27, Suite 4, Dewitt MI 48820.  He may be reached at 517-668-2406 or toll free at 877-668-2406.