This Week's Must Read

Contributing to retirement accounts will allow you to take advantage of tax breaks for retirement savers and employer contributions, as well as capture valuable investment returns on your savings. To take full advantage of all the available retirement account perks, you will need to be able to save a considerable amount of money and invest it in a way that minimizes taxes and fees.

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A lot of my fellow baby boomers, in their 50s and early 60s, find they have an option to take early retirement. Some are teachers or other public employees who can opt for retirement after a certain number of years of service, which often puts them in their 50s. Others have been offered an early retirement package from their company. The package seems like a lot of money, so they’re tempted to take it.

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Early retirement often seems impossible. It’s difficult enough these days to retire at age 65, so the thought of retiring early is a pipe dream for most people. Yet somehow this dream has become a reality for some diligent savers. In extreme cases, a few people have retired at an age when most of us are just getting started.

One well-known example is the man behind, who retired at age 30 after just nine years of working. While he is the exception to the rule, he thinks that should change. He views early retirement as something most people can attain.

Ever find yourself around the watercooler discussing with co-workers how your 401(k) is performing—likely leading to the increasingly popular “I’ll never be able to retire” discussion? It’s becoming a bit of a modern-day lament, begging the question: Why do Americans have this doom-and-gloom attitude about their golden years’ financial situation?

Academic, institutional and media reports tend to serve up workers with warnings—often wrapping up with a “save now and save more” silver lining. It doesn’t seem to be inspiring the masses. According to a Wells Fargo study, 37 percent of Americans expect to work until they are too sick to work or die.

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It’s well established that if you start saving about 10 percent of your income for retirement starting at age 25, you’re going to be in excellent shape for retirement when you hit age 65. This fact should be emblazoned on every single college and trade school diploma issued in the United States today: start saving for retirement now, not later.

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Rookie mistakes abound when you try pretty much anything for the first time. So, why should retirement be any different?

It’s just that in retirement, as in skydiving, when you make a mistake, it’s a lot harder to recover.

So, to help you through that first year, we asked the experts what are the biggest mistakes made by rookie retirees. Collectively, they had about a dozen, but we have boiled them down to seven.

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If you’ve had any exposure to retirement or college savings plans, you’ve probably heard the term “tax-advantaged.” It simply means that these types of accounts offer tax benefits that are supposed to incentivize individuals to save. In return, there are typically restrictions on the funds in order to make sure they are used for a specific purpose and not just for general savings. So, just how can these tax-advantaged accounts be more beneficial than a regular savings account?

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The Obama administration this week said it is delaying the enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate, extending until March 31 how long Americans can go without insurance before facing a penalty.

But how strict is the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to begin with? It’s a question that’s floated around since the mandate was first mentioned: Can the government – and more specifically, the IRS – really enforce the mandate penalty? The answer is yes, but only up to a point. Whichever political side of the ACA you are on, it is a technical question that’s piqued the curiosity of consumers and pundits alike.

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After decades of paying into the Social Security system, many retirees are eager to start collecting that monthly check as soon as possible. But that can be a costly mistake.

While you’re allowed to start claiming Social Security benefits at age 62, holding off for several years can add thousands of dollars to your payments over a lifetime. That’s because you don’t qualify for all of your earned benefits until you reach “full retirement age,” which is 66 for most Baby Boomers and 67 for those born in 1960 or later.

So checks claimed at age 62 are about 25% smaller than if you wait until your full retirement age. And if you wait even longer, your annual benefits will grow by another 8% for each year you wait up to age 70.

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