10 Steps to Better Retirement Planning for the New Year


Rich RRich Rausserausser is a Certified Pension Consultant (CPC), a Qualified Pension Administrator (QPA), a Qualified 401(k) Administrator (QKA), and a member of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA). He holds an M.B.A. in Finance from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a B.A. in Economics and Business Administration from Ursinus College. 

Pentegra Retirement Services is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for Qualified Retirement Plans for Credit Union Employees. http://www.nafcu.org/pentegra/

The start of every New Year brings the promise of new beginnings; a time to think about setting goals and resolving to do new things, particularly when it comes to finances.

It is important to take a few minutes this month to think about the state of your retirement portfolio and to commit to an annual self-assessment.  This should be more than ‘I will spend less’ in 2015. One of your resolutions should be to find better ways to manage your finances and invest your money.

I encourage everyone to jump-start their efforts with this checklist:

1. Increase Plan Contributions:  Are you contributing as much as you can afford to your retirement plan? The more money you put into your plan now, the bigger your potential retirement nest egg. Adding as little as five or ten extra dollars per paycheck could make a big difference over the long term.

2. Make Catch-up Contributions: Your plan may allow you to make “catch-up” contributions over and above the regular contribution limit if you are age 50 or older. If possible, take advantage of the opportunity to give your retirement savings a boost.

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Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Water – Will The Downgrade Have A Lasting Effect?

I tend to be an optimist, and thought (hoped) that once the debt ceiling deal was finalized, the nation would refocus and we could get back to the business of economic recovery.

It is usually the Federal Reserve that is accused of taking the punch bowl away just when the party gets rolling, but this year Standard & Poor’s stepped in to be the “bad cop” by downgrading their U.S. Government long-term AAA debt rating to AA+ for the first time since granting it in 1917.  This last week has brought back painful memories of 2008, with all-too-familiar volatility in the equity markets and plunges in the value of retail investor portfolios and 401(k)s.

But what will the long-term effect be?

Dave Goerz, SVP and Chief Investment Officer for HighMark Capital (the Adviser which manages our National Investment Fund for Credit Unions) has posted an excellent commentary that puts the recent debt rating downgrade into historical context and outlines some of the steps that can be taken to address the deficit and political concerns that prompted the downgrade.

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