This Week's Must Read

Under the original rules for Social Security, workers became eligible for a benefit upon reaching their full retirement age of 65, with a slight increase in benefits if the worker delayed until as late as age 70. However, full retirement age itself has always been a moving target. It was pushed from 65 to 67 in 1983, and Congress frequently raises the specter of pushing it even later — which, if acted on, could diminish the utility of a retiree delaying his/her Social Security disbursal. What follows is a look into how to navigate the knowns, and unknowns, of Social Security payouts.

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Congress has periodically looked at the idea of simplifying tax-sheltered savings, but for now investors have to wend their way through a dizzying maze of tax-advantaged investment wrappers: multiple types of IRAs, company-retirement plans, and college-savings accounts, each with its own tax treatment, its own set of rules governing who can contribute and how much, and its own policies on distributions. It’s all enough to make you wish for the good old days of certificates of deposit and passbook savings accounts.

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They’re questions nearly every young and middle-aged worker has asked themselves: Should I leave my job and retire early? What would I need? How do I know I’m ready?

If you’re considering retiring early, you’ll forego not only the headaches of working, but also the additional money earned that could have made your retirement even more comfortable. To help you decide, here are six signs you may be able to retire early instead of continuing to work.

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Wealthy people usually aren’t born that way. Most spend their lives amassing their fortunes by working hard, spending little, saving a lot and investing wisely. It may sound like a simple strategy, but the fact that the vast majority of Americans fall short of millionaire status proves that it’s easier said than done.

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Because federal tax law reaches deep into all aspects of our lives, it’s no surprise that the rules that affect us change as our lives change. This can present opportunities to save or create costly pitfalls to avoid. Being alert to the rolling changes that come at various life stages is the key to holding down your tax bill to the legal minimum. Check out these issues that confront the newly retired.

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