Your retirement years are supposed to be the time when you can rest from your labor. Retirement is a time for you to enjoy the view of the rest of your life. The hope of this is greater if you have prepared for those years financially to include how much you will need and where you will live. This planning guide offers a few tips and strategies about retiring in the state of Georgia.
Estimate Your Living Expenses During Retirement
The best way to estimate how much money you will need after retirement is to look at your current expenses and determine your tax rate during retirement. Calculate an approximate annual spending amount for everything, including living expenses and health care.
By starting with your current expenses, look at your current take home pay, and determine your out-of-pocket expenses in retirement compared to what you do not pay now. Also, consider additional expenses that might be important to budget for retirement, such as medical expenses or travel.
Build in a monthly stipend for items that may need to be replaced, which might include purchasing a vehicle or making major home repairs. Consider expenses that will decrease once you retire, such as transportation expenses to and from work.
You can also create a budget worksheet to estimate your living expenses during retirement. With this information, you can estimate the income taxes that you will have to pay on retirement income.
Ways to Save for Retirement
Now is the time to begin saving for retirement, rather than waiting until later. Everyone should have a retirement plan for their future that is completed before the retirement years begin. Traditional pension plans are no longer guaranteed, 401k plans offer little and Social Security is also not guaranteed to exist when you retire. However, there are ways to save that you can begin and watch your retirement income grow.
Starting small is better than not starting at all. Your finances might be tight right now, but you should still make an attempt to save something for your retirement each month. Small amounts are significant, especially if you are more than 20 years from retiring.
Take advantage of the tax savings with employer-sponsored programs. Retirement plans such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and/or Simplified Employee Pension Plans (SEPs) are generally offered by employers. If these are available where you work, be sure to enroll and take advantage of the tax savings. And, if your company contributes a generous match into 401k plans and you are not enrolled, you are simply leaving money on the table. Sign up as soon as possible.
Save for retirement on a regular basis. If possible, set up automatic deductions from your paycheck that goes toward funding your retirement. The money can go directly into a retirement savings vehicle such as the plans mentioned previously. This is a painless way to increase your habit of saving. It is easier than making manual payments that could be sidelined by an emergency of shopping spree.
You can take your retirement savings with you. If you switch jobs, make sure that you rollover the money in your retirement account. Do this as soon as possible to avoid any penalties that the IRS might charge. The human resources department at the new company can provide information on what you will need to do for a seamless transition.
Keeping your savings out of sight keeps it out of mind – until you need it. Remain fully committed to not tapping into your funds for retirement. This might be hard, but you should make every attempt not to use your retirement savings. Emergencies should be handled with emergency funds, not retirement savings. If you do not have an emergency fund, build that up before you begin contributing to a retirement plan.
Most Popular Places to Retire in Georgia
The next step in your retirement planning is to determine where you would like to live. If you are not already a resident, consider the state of Georgia which has many popular features for retirees.
The peach state offers a great climate, affordable living, wonderful restaurants, some of the best health care facilities in the country, shopping and great scenic beauty in many of its cities. Property taxes are low in many areas within Georgia, so buying a home could be affordable. Georgia is also home to four of the top medical schools in the country. Some of the most popular cities to retire in Georgia are St. Mary’s, Savannah, Peachtree City, Augusta and Perry.
Retiring to St. Mary’s, you become part of a small town with quaint shops and affordable housing. This fishing port is near beaches and waterways where you can relax and enjoy the view.
Savannah is known for its southern hospitality, great culture, natural beauty and history. There is an abundance of health care facilities so you can expect to receive the best medical treatment if needed. You will be able to relax during your retirement years on the river front, nearby beaches, museums, theater and many other recreational activities. The cost of living is relatively cheap in Savannah, so your retirement savings should provide a nice cushion in this city.
Peachtree City provides access to metropolitan Atlanta without compromising the peace and quiet that you would expect from a small town. More than 35,000 residents call Peachtree City home. Additionally, there are plenty of things to do to keep you active. For starters, there is more than 90 miles of golf paths in this Atlanta suburb. In 2009, Peachtree City ranked eighth as one of the best places to live by Money Magazine.
Augusta-Clarks Hill Region
The Augusta-Clarks Hill Region offers traditional living for the retiree who desires the slow pace of the traditional South. This area is located along the Georgia-South Carolina border and boasts of a warm climate, natural beauty and architecture that represents its history.
If you enjoy outdoor activities you have a choice between Clarks Hill Lake and the Augusta Canal. There is more than 1,200 miles of lakefront property in Clarks Hill Lake, which is in the northeastern part. Augusta Canal has over eight miles of trails for walking or biking. The Savannah River flows through downtown Augusta, with more than 200 registered historic buildings.
The heath care services in this region are excellent with 36 hospitals and the Medical College of Georgia Health. The Augusta-Clarks Hill Region is one of the most affordable places for retires.
Perry, Georgia has a reputation for mild temperatures. This city also provides a slow pace and quiet life for residents. However, there is still plenty to do in Perry. Located two hours from Atlanta and at the crossroads of Georgia, many of the state’s attractions are easily accessible from Perry.
Perry is also home to the Georgia National Fair. This event is an 11 day festival that has nearly 500,000 visitors annually. The Go Fish Georgia Welcome Center has fresh water aquariums, a nature trail, a hatchery and other attractions.
The cost of living is low in Perry and retirees will find high quality health care services. This place can provide a stable and comfortable environment without depleting your retirement income.
10 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Retirement Planner
While there is plenty of information to guide you in creating a retirement plan, eliciting assistance from a professional retirement or financial planner might not be a bad idea. Working with a professional who specializes in helping individuals attain financial goals and secure their future can possibly broaden your plans and resources.
However, before hiring someone to manage your life’s savings, there are a few questions to ask in order to select a competent person. You want the person to be qualified and you should feel comfortable and trust that his or her advice has your interest at heart. The following questions are a starting point to evaluating a retirement planner.
1. What is your experience as a financial planner? You want to know how long the financial planner has been practicing, the number of companies and the types of companies with whom she has been involved.
2. What are your qualifications to be a financial planner? Many financial professionals use this term loosely. Ask if he is certified by a nationally recognized organization or state agency. This could be as a Certified Financial Planner or CFP practitioner, a Chartered Financial Consultant, or a CPA (certified public accountant) and Personal Financial Specialist.
3. What types of services do you offer? Factors such as credentials, licenses and areas of expertise determine what services a financial planner can offer. Since you are looking for someone to help with your retirement plan, make sure that she offers this service specifically, and not just general financial planning advise. Many things are similar, but the information for retirement is more focused on long-term financial goals to sustain you over a long period of time.
4. How do you approach financial planning for your clients? With this question, you want to find out the typical clients and financial situations he is most comfortable with. This can give you some insight into his methods for helping you reach your goals. Some financial planners only provide advice on specific areas – and only when needed. Others want to look at your total financial picture now and what you hope to gain in the future.
You can also determine if his approach to investing is too conservative or too aggressive. Additionally, some financial planners only work with clients who have a certain amount of assets and net worth.
5. Do you have other people who work on your team? Be sure to get a list of names if others are going to be a part of your retirement planning team. You want to know if the financial planner will carry out the financial recommendations or have someone else do it, i.e. insurance agents or tax specialists. If professionals outside the financial planner’s firm will help with your retirement plan, get their names in order to check their professional backgrounds.
6. What are your fees for financial planning services? The financial planner should provide an estimate of how much her service will cost. Verify whether there is an hourly rate, a flat fee or separate fees based on the type of financial guidance you will need.
7. How is payment required for services? Typically, you will sign a financial planning agreement that outlines how the financial planner expects to be paid.
8. Is there anyone else who will benefit from your financial recommendations? Some financial planners have business relationships or partnerships with other professionals. This may affect his judgment in the type of advice you receive. As a result, you might not get the best recommendations that will only benefit you, but rather bring financial gain to someone else from a referral. Try to get a written description of any conflicts of interest.
9. Do you have any unlawful or unethical actions that occurred during your professional career? Ask the financial planner for the names of organizations that regulates her business. Organizations such as the local state insurance agency, CFP Board and the professional regulatory agency FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) maintains records on the history of disciplinary actions of financial planners. Contact these organizations to confirm whether or not the financial planner has been publicly disciplined.
10. Will I get this in writing? As mentioned previously, you should receive a financial planning agreement that outlines the type(s) of services and the cost for receiving retirement planning advice. Make sure both you and the financial planner agree on the terms and the contract is signed before any service begins.
Retirement Planners in Georgia Recognized by the Better Business Bureau
Now that you are armed with a few questions to ask a financial planner, begin researching information about professional financial planners in Georgia. You can begin with referrals from family, friends and coworkers. In addition, the list below can get you started. Each financial planning firm listed specializes in retirement planning and is recognized by the Better Business Bureau with an A- rating or better.
• Heinz-Daniel Associates, Inc. is located in the heart of Atlanta and has been in business since 1982. This firm offers also offers estate planning and management, and insurance and mortgage services.
• Pension Financial Services, Inc. in Duluth has also been in business since 1982.
• American Tax & Financial Group, LLC has been in business since 2006 and offers a broad range of financial services which include investment securities, mutual funds and tax return preparation. This firm is located in Alpharetta.
• Rhonda D. McClendon 7 Associates, CPA PC has been around since 1980 and is located in Newnan. This professional firm offers bookkeeping, payroll and tax preparation services.
• Keegan Investments, LLC is two years old and specializes in health, life and senior related insurance products in addition to retirement planning. The firm is located in Jasper.
• Golden & associates Wealth Management, LLC has been in business since 2007. Located in Atlanta, this firm offers insurance products along with retirement planning.
• Advanced Retirement Planning in Covington has been offering retirement planning and other financial services since 2000.
• Calder & Colegrove Investment Group opened January 1998 in Dacula. The financial services offered at this firm are for businesses and individuals.
Retirement planning takes time, but you can achieve your goals with the right resources and guidance. You want a plan that is focused on your well-being so that your retirement years provide a secure and healthy lifestyle. Take the necessary amount of time and steps to begin planning now.