Retirement Quick Tips

Ken Varga

I was in the financial planning industry for over 38 years helping families plan their futures, accounting for things like their kid’s college and their retirement.

Now having been semi-retired myself for a number of years, I am still very aware of what it takes to retire and can tell you, for most people, it is a whole lot more complicated today! Going forward, I can see the next 10-20 years certainly being more complex and carrying a number of unknowns, but just how they might affect you remain uncertain.

It’s very important to be aware of certain things as you navigate through your own retirement planning. Years ago working was enough, company pension and Social Security all but guaranteed you a comfortable retirement. In Washington, a nonpartisan group known as the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) regularly delivers retirement statistics. Lately, it seems that many Americans are unprepared for retirement. According to the EBRI, Americans need to be more aggressive about saving to protect themselves from falling into poverty in their senior years. In 2010 the EBRI estimated that a large percentage of people, including high earners, are likely to run out of money within the first10 to 20 years of their retirement - meeting minimum expenses.

To make matters worse, Americans are faced with relying on their own investments more and more for their retirement income. Since the 401k came into existence in the late 70’s and early 80’s, employers have slowly adopted these types of plans, transferring the responsibility away from them and into the hands of the employee.

The biggest group heading toward retirement affected by this are the Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964—some 78 million people! To put this number in perspective, the current population of the United States is a shade over 300 million.

For starters, since the first boomer started drawing a Social Security check in 2008, one must pay close attention to our entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare because they are facing challenges. Politicians have been wrestling with how to handle this problem moving forward and it’s probably safe to say that change will happen.  However, what that change is and when it will happen is anybody’s guess.

Taxes are another uncertainty. Will we face higher tax rates? Will we lose deductions moving forward? How might the decisions of our leaders regarding taxes impact our retirement?

Life expectancy is also a concern. We know that Americans are living longer. But we don’t know how long each one of us might live, so this certainly challenges us when it comes to retirement! You could be in it for 30 or more years! Plan accordingly!

Still another is our national debt, big numbers. The pace at which it is growing is going to create some real challenges for us as a country and consequently as individuals, especially for those in retirement.

Finally, I wanted bring up a factor not often mentioned - the high divorce rate we have in America and the number of single parent households it has resulted in. Simple math tells us the amount that can be saved for retirement by a dual wage-earning couple versus a single wage-earner can be huge!

Also, because of the high cost to get started in the world today, you may be a parent who has adult children still living at home. This also affects you, supporting them may be taking away from your own future financial security too! (I do mean, of course, if the children are healthy and able to make a living on their own).

As you can see planning for retirement can be a challenge. However, the basics of long term planning will never change – I am still doing them myself:

  1. Pay Yourself FIRST!
  2. Save as much as you can as early as you can on a consistent basis
  3. Invest according to your risk tolerance
  4. Utilize IRA’s and 401k’s
  5. Calculate NOW what you’ll need at retirement so you know way ahead of time


*How can I maximize my social security benefits? One way is if your spouse has a pension based on his or her life only, you may wish to consider delaying receiving benefits as long as possible so that you get the maximum benefit for your lifetime.

*What mistakes should I avoid with my 401(k)? A big one is keeping your old 401(k) at your old job…You run the risk of giving up control. The old plan may change investment providers or investment options whether you like it or not!

*How do I create an income plan in retirement? As a starting point, it may help to think of your retirement income as a stool with multiple legs. The three most common “legs” of retirement income are: Social Security, pension, and personal savings.

*What types of financial professionals should I consider hiring? First, it’s important to understand the different types of financial professionals that exist - there are two different “camps” that they can fall into – independent or captive.

//About the Author

Ken Varga is a businessman who has built 35 successful, profitable businesses in his career of 38 years. One of Ken’s off-line businesses had over 460,000 ongoing customers. Ken is the author of over 300 information products, including the best-selling book, “How to Get Customers to Call, Buy and Beg for More!” All of his works are based on his experiences of developing hundreds of thousands of customers through expert marketing. At this high point of his career, Ken is focusing on being a mentor and motivating force for entrepreneurs, executives and sales professionals. If you want a free copy, go to