Retirement Planning – Credible Resources For Planning Your Future

Retirement planning is a crucial part of planning for your future. Unfortunately, it is oftentimes left on the back burner because many people do not have sufficient income to contribute to a retirement fund or investments. Today, a large percentage of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck; struggling to get through the week and never giving retirement planning a second thought.
In a perfect world, retirement planning would begin at birth. Imagine how much money you could have if your parents put just $10 a week into a retirement account starting the day you were born. The reality is most Americans do not begin planning for their retirement until they are well into their 40s or 50s. Even worse, many people don’t prepare for their golden years at all. Instead, they end up living off a fixed income provided by the government.  
Retirement planning doesn’t have to difficult, confusing, or overwhelming. It is not limited to the wealthy or fortunate few. In fact, planning for your retirement can be downright exciting and exceptionally rewarding. There are endless opportunities which put your money to work for you. All it takes is a bit of time to conduct research or consult with a professional retirement planner.
Perhaps one of the most trusted and reliable resource for retirement advice is the American Association of Retired Persons. An advocate for retirees, the American Association of Retired Persons offers a comprehensive financial planning section on their website.
Everything you ever wanted to know about Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA), Simplified Employee Pension (SEP), stocks, bonds, mutual funds, low-cost index investments, real estate investment trusts (REIT) and other investment opportunities can be found at the American Association of Retired Persons website.
Another source for obtaining retirement planning information is through the U.S. Social Security Administration. The SSA website provides financial tools, calculators and retirement planning forms to help you determine the amount of social security benefits you may be entitled to in your later years. is a website operated by the U.S. Financial Literacy and Education Committee. This unique website provides a wealth of financial information and offers a free toolkit which includes a Consumer Action handbook and numerous retirement planning tools. 
Several employers offer retirement planning benefits to employees. In some instances employers provide retirement education classes hosted by the benefits provider or through individual counseling provided by the human resources department.
Chances are your banking institution offers retirement planning services. Most provide free consultations to their customers. Next time you are at the bank, stop in the lobby and pick up financial and retirement planning literature. Better yet, arrange a meeting with the branch manager to begin taking steps toward your future.
Last, but not least, investment firms are an excellent source for obtaining retirement planning information and advice. Professional investors can help you develop a diversified financial portfolio to ensure you achieve both long and short-term financial goals.
By taking time now to research opportunities which allow your money to grow, you will be able to sit back and relax during your golden years!

Preparing High Schoolers For Their Financial Future

High school students are only several short years from adulthood – and with it, the financial freedom to take out loans, sign leases and charge to credit cards. Many teenagers don’t have the patience for long financial conversations, so prioritize the following tasks and discussion topics.

1. Help open a checking account. Children over the age of 13 can open a checking account in most states with a parent or guardian’s signature. If opening an account is a possibility, go to the bank with your children and sit down with a banker who can help explain how to deposit and withdraw money, use a debit card and the consequences of an overdraft. Having a checking account will help your teens get used to banking and will make it easier to manage their own money if they have a job, car or other financial obligations.

2. Encourage a part-time job if appropriate. All children are different, and while some teens are eager to go to work as soon as they’re able, others may need some help identifying appropriate opportunities. If your children are consistently requesting money for gas, clothing or other discretionary expenses, part-time jobs may be a good idea. However, be sure that your children continue to focus time on school work and other important extracurricular activities. A part-time job can help teens establish a work ethic, meet friends and professional contacts and earn some extra cash along the way.

3. Communicate about paying for college. Whether you intend to fund your children’s education or expect them to save their earnings and take out student loans, it’s important that you discuss college finances with them. Setting expectations about paying for higher education well before your children are filling out college applications is crucial. The longer your teens have to seek out scholarships and save more of their allowance or income from a part-time job, the better. If you plan to pay your children’s tuition, be honest about what you’ll be able to afford, and what expenses (if any) you won’t pay, like room and board or textbooks.

4. Suggest setting financial goals. If your teens are earning an allowance or a regular paycheck, suggest they establish two or three financial goals to accomplish before graduation. Whether they wish to save for college, a down payment for a used car or a gaming console, learning to establish and track progress toward a financial goal can help them understand the basics of managing money.

Remember that good money habits can be taught with the right amount of financial support and independence. High school is the perfect time for your children to take on real fiscal responsibilities – and become comfortable with them before the financial pressures of college set in.