This Week's Must Read

I had been planning my retirement for years. I read all the literature about my pension and ran all the calculations. I reduced my spending. I got completely out of debt and even added a little padding to my savings. So why did I fear what is supposed to be the best time of life? Why did I awfulize retirement — thinking so much about the things that could go wrong that I was afraid to retire?

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CHICAGO, June 22 (Reuters) – Retirees can look forward to the largest Social Security cost-of-living adjustment next year since 2012 – but don’t break out the champagne just yet. For many, higher Medicare premiums will take a big bite out of their raise.

The 2018 Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will not be announced until October, but inflation trends point toward an increase of about 2 percent, according to a recent forecast by the Senior Citizens League. That would be a welcome change compared with the 0.3 percent bump in 2017, and 2016 when no COLA was made.

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In 1977, country singer Johnny Paycheck scored a No.1 hit on the singles chart with “Take This Job and Shove It.” The song’s popularity reflected how many people feel about the daily grind of working for a living. For many, retirement is the way out – and it’s something most people would like to achieve sooner rather than later.

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It’s hard to plan for retirement, and one of the trickiest questions is: How much should I save?

The honest answer is: It depends. “The best-laid plans can be undone by a messy divorce, a disabling disease, or a stock market crash,” Jonathan Skinner, a professor of economics at Dartmouth College, wrote in a study on the topic. Your future health-care expenses are almost impossible to predict, for example, especially as Congress considers big changes to the system.

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Reinventing retirement

It’s fun to picture a retirement on the beach or traveling the globe, but that isn’t the typical retirement experience for most Americans. Many retirees have significant health and financial concerns, and sometimes struggle to fill their newfound free time with meaningful activities. Consider these often unexpected aspects of retirement.

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Are you getting close to retirement and itching to take your Social Security benefits? You may want to wait. The bottom line is: waiting longer to start drawing your benefits pays.

And it seems more people are clued into this fact. According to a new study by Fidelity, only 3 in 10 retirees plan on taking their benefits when they turn 62, the earliest you’re eligible to apply for Social Security. Compare that to 2008, when almost half of retirees planned to start taking benefits at 62, according to Fidelity.

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If you haven’t been saving for retirement, you’re not alone. A new survey sheds light on just how much Americans struggle to stash away money for their golden years.

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), one in four workers (24%) confessed they and their spouse have less than $1,000 saved for retirement. About 50% said they had saved less than $25,000.

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