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Planning Your Financial Future In The US

It's never too early to start planning for your retirement. Unfortunately, too many Americans do not save enough to secure their financial futures. While the U.S. government does provide Social Security benefits to retirees (at least 10 years of employment required) after the age of 65, often these payments are not enough to pay sufficient living expenses. As a result, many older Americans ("senior citizens") are poor.

! Financial experts suggest you contribute at least 10-15% of your earnings into retirement savings.

In order to provide for retirement, many American workers contribute to an employee pension plan. The employer takes a percentage of one's weekly or monthly pay into the plan. Some of these plans are tax-deferred - that is, they use pre-tax dollars and do not require taxes to be paid until the money is withdrawn upon retirement. Examples of employee pension plans include:

  • 401K
  • Keogh Plan

To further supplement their retirement benefits, Americans also invest in:

  • stocks and bonds issued by public companies
  • government bonds
  • mutual funds (groups of company stocks put together by investment advisors)
  • index funds - funds based on the performance of an index, like the S&P 500

If you are not familiar with investing, it may help to hire a financial planner, who can look at your investment goals and timetable and offer helpful suggestions about where to put your money,

Types of Financial Planners:

  • fee-only advisors - flat rate, no commission for securities sales
  • commission-based advisors

To find a licensed financial planner in your area, contact the Financial Planning Association.

Types of Mutual Funds:

  • no-load funds - the broker gets no commission
  • load funds - commission-based funds

Stock brokers are professionals whom you can hire to make stock trades and help design a stock portfolio for you. As with other professionals, it is important to choose your broker wisely.

Useful Links:

Investorwords.com - a glossary of investment terms.

IRS 1-800-829-3676 "Retirement Planning for the Self-Employed"

Amazon.com. - the online discount book retailer offers a wide selection of financial planning books

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