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Sooner Is Better in Planning for Retirement

By ROBERT A. DEFRANK

Staff Writer

WHEELING — Retirement planning is sometimes a facet of life people delay, but sooner is better, according to Tim Roberts of Roberts & Coss Financial Planning in Wheeling.

“My thoughts and my opinion is, as soon as they possibly can, and as much as they possibly can. Learn to live without. You get your first job at 21 years old, and you start to put away 15 percent of your pay, and you get that working for you, you should be fine at 65 years old,” he said. “Most people spend more time planning their summer vacation than they do planning their retirement. …

“I always try to tell these kids, you need to get at least six months of salary for a rainy day cash fund in case they lose their job. You need that rainy day fund that you never touch.”

Roberts stresses the value of planning.

“It’s always been ‘as soon as possible,’ because you’re always going to be able to find an excuse to spend money. I don’t think anybody’s had that problem — spending it — but once you get used to not having that in your paycheck, you can adjust going forward and have the money continually put away,” he said, adding that this is an important lesson.

“The biggest thing you can do for young kids is get them to save for themselves. Put that money away as soon as they possibly can. Always take the match from your company, if they’re matching at all. Get that free money at all points. If your company doesn’t offer that, you can still do a deductible IRA. Get your money working for you. The days of a defined benefit plan which our grandfathers grew up with, where you work for so long and you get a check, are few and far between … so you better start taking care of yourself, because it is no longer the company’s responsibility or the government’s responsibility to make sure you have a retirement.”

People should not count on Social Security to provide for them in their retirement years, Roberts said.

“You’ve got Social Security, but that’s not going to be enough for most people to live on,” he said. “Originally when Social Security was started … the average male died at age 58. You didn’t collect it ’til age 60. Longevity is a huge problem now. You’re going to keep seeing the age where you become eligible to collect Social Security, they’re going to keep bumping it up because people are going to need to work longer. That’s just ’cause they’re healthier longer.”

Roberts pointed out the many factors that might influence someone’s planning.

“You have to factor inflation, which means you have to overplan. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Running out of money is a problem,” he said. “It’s what you can live without comfortably. It’s tough to play catch-up once you get into real life with a wife, kids, house. It’s better to be early.

“It’s kind a of a pyramid, you get your block on the bottom, your rainy day fund,” he said. “In secure investments. Then you have your retirement plan, and you contribute to that.”

Robers said there is no shortcut.

“The young generation thinks there’s a quick cure in the stock market, and there’s not. It’s not a quick cure, it’s a long game. There’s not and easy way to do it. It’s a grind — a long-term grind.”

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