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Happy birthday, and welcome to AARP

Turning 50 offers up the question of the day: should you join AARP?

We are all getting older. Maybe you noticed. One rite of passage is the arrival of your AARP application on your 50th birthday. It's a great wake up call to get your retirement in order.

It came in the mail. Just another envelope to process. But for some reason the letters AARP rang in my head – American Association of RETIRED Persons. You get the envelope around your 50th birthday. Once upon a time, 50 seemed OLD. Now -- not so much.

But, for most Americans, their 50th birthday is a reminder that they had wanted to quit working one day. According to a June 2015 Government Accountability Office analysis, the estimated median savings of the average fiftysomething is about $117,000. Which is way short of the target often sited – four to five times your current salary. So a worker making $60,000 in salary should have $240,000 saved to be on track.

It's Not Too Late

For many folks, that AARP invitation gets them thinking. They realize they are not clear on the path to a comfortable retirement. They often start to get engaged in thinking and planning for a successful retirement. The good news is that it's not too late.

If you can save $1,000 per month over the next 15 years you could accumulate about $288,000 in savings. This assumes an average rate of return of 6% per year. (From January 1970 through to Dec. 2015, the average annual compounded rate of return for the S&P 500®, including reinvestment of dividends, was approximately 10.5% according to

If you can keep it up for another 5 years, for a total of 20 years of saving, you will accumulate approximately $456,000.

Tax Free Plan

And, that savings can work even harder if both married spouses fund a ROTH IRA each year to the maximum of $6,500 each. That makes your joint savings more than $1,000 per month and all of it has grown TAX FREE and will come to you in distributions TAX FREE. That's a 20% to 40% increase in spendable money in retirement.

If you're fiftysomething, and it occurs to you that you want to be able to retire, it might be a great time to call a fee-only, fiduciary, financial planner to explore starting a retirement game plan. Fiduciary planners are required to serve onlly your interests; they do not sell products but they are expert in helping you select products that will work hard to get you the results you need. The professional skills and experience of a fiduciary planner can make a big difference as you approach your target retirement date.

A good planner will address six key areas of your situation

  1. Examining your present financial situation.
    What are your goals?
    How is the monthly cash flow?
    What company retirement benefits do you have?
  2. Protecting what's important.
    What things can you NOT afford to lose?
    How will you take care of your dependents?
    How have you planned for potential financial risks?
    Long term healthcare
  3. Accumulating wealth
    Goals for growth?
    Saving for education
    Buying a home
    Becoming a business owner
    Comfortable retirement
    Other goals
    How are your current investments working for your goals?
    How much money will you need?
    When will you need it?
  4. Managing taxes
    How do you handle taxes?
    How do you plan for timing of income and deductions?
    Do you feel comfortable with the current tax laws and how they apply to you?
    Are estate taxes a concern for you?
  5. Panning for retirement
    How are you planning to make your retirement dreams a reality?
    In what ways are your liabilities impacting your retirement goals?
    Are you confident that you'll be able to maintain your standard of living in retirement?
  6. Leaving a legacy
    How should your assets be distributed when you're gone?
    How will your intentions be carried out?
    A will
    A trust
    Beneficiary designations
    Power of attorney
    Healthcare directives
    Will your plans allow you to reach all your goals?

The best planners will give you advice on what to do next in all six areas and help to implement and follow through to make the plan a reality.

If you got the AARP invitation and have questions, contact my office at

Advisory services offered through AdvisorNet Wealth Management Inc. an SEC registered investment advisor, 701 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 1500, Minneapolis, MN 55415, (612) 347-8600,  AdvisorNet Wealth Management Inc. and Dunncreek Advisors are separate entities. These articles are for informational purposes only. While designed to provide accurate information on the subjects covered, they are not intended to provide specific legal, tax, or other professional advice. For a comprehensive review or specific personal assistance, always consult with an appropriate professional. Dunncreek Advisors does not provide legal or tax advice.

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