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Ask the Experts: Retirement Income Shortfalls

Q. I’m 55 and not really happy with my job any more. I’d like to retire but I’m not sure I have enough money. What should I do? -Molly, Washington, DC

A. Molly, first you need to realize that you’re not alone. Many baby boomers are tired and burnt, and no longer want to wake up to their alarm clock come Monday morning. Here are a couple of suggestions.

Talk with your employer about a phased retirement. For some reason, people think they need to stop working altogether or keep working full-time. Some of my private clients have broached the subject of a reduced workload and/or a phased retirement with their employers. Progressive employers are more open to this idea than they were even a few years ago. The end result may be less money for less work, but that added free time may be just what you’re looking for without derailing your retirement plans and having to tap your savings and portfolio too early. Discuss reducing the number of days you work from five days to four, or five days to 3 days. Perhaps you can work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days. This way you may be able to maintain your present income level but generate an extra 52 days off per year (that’s seven weeks of vacation time).

Rethink your portfolio. Talk with the financial professional you trust. Ask him/her how much money your portfolio could generate annually. Do you have enough to walk away from work? How long will your money last? Determine if there are ways to enhance your return and/or reduce your investment costs. Every little bit of extra money you can earn or save goes right to your bottom line. If you need to accumulate a larger nest egg, consider a more growth-oriented portfolio with extra added volatility.

Bill’s Bottom Line: Find professional help here. A qualified advisor can show you how to reduce expenses and restructure your finances to maximize your free time and happiness.

Bill Losey, CFP®, CSA, America's Retirement Strategist®, is the resident retirement planning

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expert for On the Money. He has been named one of America’s Top Financial Planners and is the author of Retire in a Weekend!. The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Making Work Optional. He also publishes Retirement Intelligence, a free weekly award-winning newsletter. Bill can be reached online at MyRetirementSuccess.com.