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Plan for Your Retirement and a Financially Secure Future

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Gail Paschall, 64, of Cudahy, learned about retirement planning at a series of AARP-sponsored events. Photo by Kevin J. Miyazaki/Redux

By Marie Rohde

If the thought of retirement gives you sweaty palms and brings on a major headache, you’re not alone.

“We have the tools to help you plan for retirement,” said Lisa Lamkins, federal advocacy director for AARP Wisconsin. “People are hungry for accurate information.”

Throughout the year, AARP Wisconsin will hold a series of events focusing on Social Security, pensions and retirement planning. The events will include traditional workshops and telephone town halls as well as “happy hours” with a twist of education.

As part of Money Smart Week, April 5-12, AARP Wisconsin will offer a workshop during the Milwaukee Money Conference April 12 at Milwaukee Area Technical College, 700 W. State St. To register,call 608-663-6332 or go to bit.ly/1dr05Qs; people can also register at the door. Go to aarp.org/wi for more information.

Money Smart Week is a financial literacy program featuring hundreds of events around the state for people of all ages. The annual program, being held in more than 40 states, was adopted in Wisconsin in 2006. Statewide events can be viewed at moneysmartweek.org.

Promoting savings

Meanwhile, making it easier for all workers to contribute to a pension account is on the AARP legislative agenda, said Helen Marks Dicks, state advocacy director. “We’re exploring the options, including a state-sponsored pension plan.”

Several other states, including California and Minnesota, are also looking into the idea of allowing workers and employers to voluntarily pay into a portable savings and investment fund, she said.

Advocating a secure future for Social Security is another priority. “Social Security should not be used to reduce the deficit,” Lamkins said. “We are going to focus on policies that strengthen and protect Social Security.”

Not ready to retire for a few more years? That was what Gail Paschall, 64, of Cudahy, thought until she was downsized from her job as assistant to a medical clinic director two years ago.

“I intended to work until I was at least 70,” said Paschall. “The job market, especially for someone my age, is almost impossible,” she said. “So my only alternative was to take Social Security.”

Paschall became an AARP volunteer and attended a series of Ready for Retirement events, where she learned about various tools designed to help those approaching retirement chart their course.

“Retirement is a life stage,” said Mariann Muzzi, AARP Wisconsin community outreach director. “The gift and the challenge is that retirement is no longer a template for us.
“We are all redefining what retirement will be,” she added. “These are tools to aid in that planning.”

People who see retirement on the horizon can use the AARP Ready for Retirement guide at aarp.org/readyforretirement, which takes users through a five-step process that includes both the financial and non-financial aspects of retirement.

Other AARP financial planning tools include:

  • The AARP Retirement Calculator, which estimates how much additional income, if any, retirees will need based on their individual savings, projected Social Security income and lifestyle. Go to aarp.org/retirementcalculator.
  • The AARP Social Security Calculator, which helps people determine at what age to claim Social Security. Go to aarp.org/socialsecuritybenefits.
  • The AARP 401(k) Savings Calculator, which shows how your 401(k) savings and employer match can accumulate over time. Go to aarp.org/401kcalculator.
  • The AARP Pension Plan Retirement Options Calculator, which helps determine what kind of pension plan is best for your needs and spousal protection. Go to aarp.org/pensioncalculator.
  • The AARP Health Care Costs Calculator, which helps estimate health care costs and account for them in a retirement plan. Go to aarp.org/healthcostscalc.

Marie Rohde is a freelance writer in Glendale, Wis.

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