This Week's Must Read

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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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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Planning for retirement can be stressful, but breaking it down to these five elements can help. If you want your nest egg to be robust when you’re ready to retire, you have to take care of it now. That means careful investing and saving. You can’t just go out there and wing it.

Here are five things to consider as you build and manage your wealth.

1. Reduce your risk.
If you lose 10% of your savings when you’re young — say, $1,000 of your $10,000 — it’s a blow. If you lose 10% of the $1 million you have saved for retirement at 65, it will feel like a knockout punch. Know your time horizon and how much risk you can tolerate. Your portfolio will thank you.

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Fanny Handel, a retiree in Queens, N.Y., was stunned to receive a notice in 2015 telling her she owed $92,000 in taxes on her traditional individual retirement account. Like many Americans, she thought the account was tax-free.

But she was wrong. It is entirely possible to owe annual tax on a tax-deferred traditional IRA or tax-free Roth IRA, even on an allowed investment..

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These days, investors can track at any moment how the market’s daily ups and downs are affecting their wealth.  Even investors with multiple investment accounts spread across different firms can calculate changes in their net worth in real time, thanks to websites and apps that do all of the work for them. One might think that having all of this information would make people more financially savvy, especially when it comes to saving for retirement. New research, however, suggests that for many people, it may be the opposite.

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