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Retirement Planning for the 21st Century - Smart Tips for Successful Investing

Whether you love your job or hate it, you will want to leave someday. What happens when that day comes depends largely on what you do now, starting with how well you plan for retirement.

There are dozens of wildcards in retirement planning, from how much you make and how much you spend to how long you work and how healthy, or unhealthy, you are. And while some of these factors are outside of your control, others are not.

You may not be able to control how much you make, for example, but you can make the most of your paycheck. You may not be able to stop yourself from getting sick, but you can do what you can to improve your health and live a healthier lifestyle.

When it comes to retirement planning, there are things you can do to make the most of the money you have available. Here are some practical tips to make the most of your retirement planning.

Start as Early as Possible

It is never too early to start saving for retirement. In fact, the sooner you start saving for retirement, the less you should have to save. Thanks to the power of compounding and the accumulation of profits, getting an early start on retirement is one of the smartest things you can do.

You may not be thinking about retirement your first day on the job, but you should be. If you want to enjoy a financially secure post-work life, getting a head start on your retirement savings is one of the best ways to do it.

The great thing about starting early is that it allows you to start small. You can start with as little as one percent of your paycheck, and then work your way up from there. Better still, seeing your account grow over time could give you an extra incentive to save even more.

Take Advantage of Free Money

You might think that no one in their right mind would turn down free money, yet millions of workers are doing just that. A surprising number of working adults are not contributing to their 401(k) plans at work, even when their employers offer free matching funds.

Even more workers fail to get the maximum match, missing out on free money they could be earning. If you want to start saving for retirement, capturing that free 401(k) money should be your very first step. So ask your boss about the rules for your 401(k) plan, and make sure you contribute enough to get the maximum matching funds.

Prioritize Tax-Deferred and Tax-Free Accounts

You have to pay taxes eventually but putting off taxation is a great way to grow your retirement funds. By prioritizing tax-deferred retirement assets like 401(k) plans and tax-free options like a Roth IRA, you can lower your tax bill over time, so your money works harder for you now and later.

There are plenty of tax-deferred and tax-free retirement plan options out there, from the 401(k) your employer offers to the Roth IRA you can open at any brokerage firm or mutual fund company. If you are not already doing so, maxing out these plans can give you a jump start on your retirement planning.

Keep Your Expenses Low

Every dollar you spend on retirement planning expenses is one less dollar you will have when you stop working. In fact, high expenses are even more damaging, since the future value of that dollar could be far more than it is worth today.

Taking advantage of low-cost options like index funds and no-load mutual funds is one of the best ways to maximize your retirement planning. Over time, index funds have outperformed the vast majority of actively managed funds, so choosing this low-cost option could be good for your bottom line in more ways than one.

Retirement planning can seem like a complicated endeavor, but it does not have to be. By prioritizing tax-deferred investments, keeping your expenses low and starting early, you can get a head start on your retirement planning, so you can truly enjoy your post-work years.

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*Winners appearing on this page do not pay a fee to be considered or to win the Five Star Award. Professionals with a digital profile have paid a promotional fee.
The Five Star Wealth Manager award, administered by Crescendo Business Services, LLC (dba Five Star Professional), is based on 10 objective criteria. Eligibility criteria – required: 1. Credentialed as a registered investment adviser or a registered investment adviser representative; 2. Actively licensed as a registered investment adviser or as a principal of a registered investment adviser firm for a minimum of 5 years; 3. Favorable regulatory and complaint history review (As defined by Five Star Professional, the wealth manager has not; A. Been subject to a regulatory action that resulted in a license being suspended or revoked, or payment of a fine; B. Had more than a total of three settled or pending complaints filed against them and/or a total of five settled, pending, dismissed or denied complaints with any regulatory authority or Five Star Professional’s consumer complaint process. Unfavorable feedback may have been discovered through a check of complaints registered with a regulatory authority or complaints registered through Five Star Professional’s consumer complaint process; feedback may not be representative of any one client’s experience; C. Individually contributed to a financial settlement of a customer complaint; D. Filed for personal bankruptcy within the past 11 years; E. Been terminated from a financial services firm within the past 11 years; F. Been convicted of a felony); 4. Fulfilled their firm review based on internal standards; 5. Accepting new clients. Evaluation criteria – considered: 6. One-year client retention rate; 7. Five-year client retention rate; 8. Non-institutional discretionary and/or non-discretionary client assets administered; 9. Number of client households served; 10. Education and professional designations. Wealth managers do not pay a fee to be considered or placed on the final list of Five Star Wealth Managers. Award does not evaluate quality of services provided to clients. Once awarded, wealth managers may purchase additional profile ad space or promotional products. The Five Star award is not indicative of the wealth manager’s future performance. Wealth managers may or may not use discretion in their practice and therefore may not manage their client’s assets. The inclusion of a wealth manager on the Five Star Wealth Manager list should not be construed as an endorsement of the wealth manager by Five Star Professional or this publication. Working with a Five Star Wealth Manager or any wealth manager is no guarantee as to future investment success, nor is there any guarantee that the selected wealth managers will be awarded this accomplishment by Five Star Professional in the future. For more information on the Five Star award and the research/selection methodology, go to fivestarprofessional.com. 709 Westchester-area wealth managers were considered for the award; 88 (12% of candidates) were named 2021 Five Star Wealth Managers. 2020: 661 considered, 93 winners; 2019: 654 considered, 115 winners; 2018: 680 considered, 85 winners; 2017: 492 considered, 98 winners; 2016: 641 considered, 149 winners; 2015: 1,333 considered, 288 winners; 2014: 3105 considered, 283 winners; 2013: 1,992 considered, 316 winners; 2012: 1,598 considered, 300 winners.