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Question: I had the good fortune to be able to retire early at age 52, but last year's market meltdown has made me rethink the decision. I may still be okay, but I don't have the same level of certainty I once had. My question is this: How will Social Security be calculated for me and how does the fact that I haven't worked the last few years fit into the calculation? --Jack Ford, West Newbury, Mass.
Question: I always heard that you will need 80% or so of your working salary to live on in retirement. But is that a percentage of your gross income or your take-home pay? --Mary Taylor, Chalfont, Pennsylvania
Among the swell of bad news that occurred courtesy of the financial crisis last fall is that 401(k) investors got slammed. And a new report released Tuesday quantifies just how hard.
Question: I'm in my 30's and have a 401(k) from a previous job, 75% of which is invested in a variety of stock portfolios. Although my stock holdings have recovered a bit recently, I'm still down about $7,000 from my peak balance. I'm planning to roll over this old 401(k) into either the 401(k) at my new job or into an IRA account, but I'm wondering whether I should do the rollover now while stocks are still cheap or wait until the market has recovered and then do it. What do think? --Todd Gerecke, Lynden, Washington
Target-date funds, those all-in-one portfolios of stocks and bonds that are supposed to be age-appropriate, have become targets themselves lately. The charge: that they failed to protect older investors from last year's downturn.
For the first time in a year, more workers increased the amount of money they put into their 401(k) accounts during the second quarter than decreased their contributions, according to a report issued Wednesday by a retirement fund manager.
Question: I'm single, 38 years old and have about $900,000 saved up. I'm tired of the stress of the corporate world and am wondering: If I live a very simple life, can I afford to retire and not have to worry about going through all my money? --Don H., Marietta, Georgia
For years a cardinal rule of retirement investing has been to put every penny you can into IRAs, 401(k)s, and other tax-deferred accounts. That advice rested on a commonsense assumption: that after you stopped working you'd move into a lower tax bracket. That was important because the money you take out of a tax-deferred account is subject to ordinary income taxes.
Question: I'm 49 and my wife is 50. We agree on most things, except how much of our investment portfolio we should keep in cash. She is completely risk-averse and focuses only on the "spanking" we took in the market last year. I feel that by letting so much money sit in CDs earning 1% to 2% we're missing out on better opportunities. Currently, we've got about $500,000 in cash as part of an otherwise well diversified portfolio. Can you help me convince her to take half that money and buy into some dividend-paying blue chips? --Garry, Atlanta, Georgia
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