Scenario 1: Your path to retirement is wide, gently sloped, paved with good intentions and free of potholes-including market declines, job loss and health problems.
Scenario 2: Your path to retirement is steep, littered with obstacles and fraught with perils, including procrastination and the temptation to raid your accounts to finance other pressing priorities.
Unfortunately, Scenario 2 is more likely. In a new survey by Ameriprise Financial of people ages 50 to 70, virtually all of the respondents said they had experienced at least one retirement derailer, and more than half said that it had seriously affected their retirement savings. The average amount lost or forgone: $117,000. A poll of Kiplinger's readers showed similar results.
You can't stop life from knocking you off your feet, but you can plan for the unexpected and move forward after the inevitable hard knocks.
By Dan Caplinger
The Motley Fool
Many Americans struggle to make ends meet during their retirement. A third of all retirees now get 90 percent or more of their income from Social Security, according to figures from Boston College's Center for Retirement Research. For those who are fortunate enough to own their homes, a reverse mortgage can be an option that can supplement Social Security and other income sources.
Reverse mortgages get their name from the fact that the stream of payments goes the opposite direction from what homeowners are used to. Rather than you making monthly payments to your bank, the lender sends the money back to you.
It's a simple way for retirees to tap their home equity without the risk of a conventional mortgage or having to sell their homes and move to less expensive housing. But before you decide it's right for you, you need to understand exactly what you're getting into.
Here are five facts that are essential to know for anyone considering a reverse mortgage.
By Chuck Saletta
The Motley Fool
This is not an article on how to invest $25 a week and turn it into a million-dollar gold mine. It's not even an article about how to turn it into half a million dollars, unless you have 40 years to wait and incredible investment returns.
This is a piece about figuring out a way to add just a little bit more to your savings plan -- say, $5 a workday, $25 a week, $100 a month -- to give your retirement years a nice little boost.
We're talking about the kind of money that'll afford you a couple of extra vacations, or a new car, or the ability to spoil the grandkids every now and then. You know, the little things that turn life from mere existence into a pleasurable journey.
Check out our gallery to see how many of these 10 must-have documents are in your possession -- and which ones it's time for you to take action on.
Australia is not only the home of the koala, the kangaroo, and the duck-billed platypus, but may also be home to that other rare and exotic animal: the secure retirement.
By Catherine Baab-Muguira
What does Australia have that America lacks? For starters, its retirees enjoy more financial security, better tax laws, and a generally higher standard of living than we do on this side of the globe. That's thanks to a few key differences in government policy -- and some twists and turns the country has taken in the course of history.
As an American who has just moved to Australia for a long assignment -- and, maybe decades hence, a comfortable place to retire -- I've had a chance to look into what's behind the great retirement divide.
So you want to be a real estate investor? Well, it's important where you're buying. You want to be in a market where you stand the best chance to get good bang for your buck. So where should you look? Not even in the United States. Try Panama. Buying homes overseas can be a cash cow for many people. And Panama's economy is one of the few in the world that was virtually untouched during and after the economic crisis. There are other markets, too, that are good to look at overseas. To learn where you should be investing in real estate overseas, check out the video above.
By Dan Caplinger
Investors are getting more excited about the stock market now that it has fully recovered from the financial crisis and started to set new record highs. But if you're looking to invest now, you have to protect yourself from the possibility that the long bull market could reverse itself.
It's always tough both financially and psychologically to recover from immediate losses on investments you just bought, so taking steps to avoid big losses is well worth the effort.
With that goal in mind, here are five exchange-traded funds that can strengthen your portfolio against the threat of a possible stock-market decline while still giving you exposure to further gains if the bull market continues.
By Molly McCluskey
Between the growing number of adult children moving back in with their parents, and a growing population of senior citizens becoming financially dependent on their children, the Sandwich Generation can't seem to catch a break.
Nearly half of all adults between the ages of 40-59 are giving financial support either to a parent over the age of 65 or to their offspring. Nearly one in seven adults are supporting both. So says a new study by Pew on the rising financial burdens of those adults -- the generation that overlaps both the Baby Boomers and Generation X.
"People haven't saved enough for retirement."
There's a lot of research talking about Canadians' lack of retirement savings. It looks like people are buying into those messages too.
Unfortunately though, the information appears to be affecting the would-be retiree's psyche, with troubling results: Half believe they'll exhaust their retirement savings in less than 10 years, but a significant number don't know for sure, and a large number of people won't even consider certain income options.
"This all suggests to me that people are trying to avoid thinking about it," says Investor Education Fund (IEF) president, Tom Hamza.
Do you know someone who is downsizing, specifically to finance their retirement? Perhaps they're renting out part of their home, or selling their home altogether to become renters themselves?
Be kind. It's an emotional, and difficult decision they've made - one that probably wasn't arrived upon lightly, and one they were probably driven to by real need.