5 tips for a secure retirement

Reporter: Lois Thome
Published: Updated:

CAPE CORAL, Fla. Phillis Carbone thought she had enough money to retire.

But when the economy tanked in 2007, she lost her job.

“They came in and said, ‘You, you and you, bye,'” Carbone said.

She couldn’t find another job, so she tried to retire early, but she realized she couldn’t afford that.

Carbone’s story has a happy ending — she landed a gig she loves at the Cape Coral Lee County Library — but not everyone who catches a tough break before retirement age is able to come up with a plan B.

The challenge became tougher this year when the Social Security Administration announced the full retirement age jumped from 65 to 67 for those born 1960 or later.

Bonita Springs-based financial adviser Stefan Contorno of Findley Wise Wealth Management, who’s helped people successfully retire for 20 years, has five tips for workers:

  1. Have a financial plan — a roadmap for retirement

    “What are your assets, what is your debt, what do you have and own?” Contorno said. “And then we put down on paper all your investments and we look to see what are your goals. When do you want to retire, what age?”

  2. Maximize your savings

    “Whether you have a 401K or an IRA or just a savings account, you need to make sure you’re putting in as much as you possibly can to make sure that money grows and compounds for you,” Contorno said.

  3. Create cash flow

    You’ll need 70-80 percent of your preretirement income — and don’t forget to factor in inflation.

    “Now the best way to look at inflation is look at how prices have increased over time,” Contorno said. “Look at how much a stamp cost as a kid, look at how much college cost 10, 15, 20 years ago versus where it costs today.”

  4. Figure out when to take Social Security

    If you take it too early, you get less.

    “One of the things we do is a break-even analysis, so we actually look at Social Security at various ages with our clients at what the benefit would be, and through our financial plan we are able to get a better idea of when they should be taking that benefit,” Contorno said.

  5. Plan for increasing health care costs

    “What we found in our report in 2016 is that health care costs are rising at two times the rate of inflation,” Contorno said.

Those who have a financial plan do better, but Contorno warns it’s not enough to simply make the plan and execute it. You have to look at it periodically and adjust it as necessary. Contorno recommends checking it at least twice a year.

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