Lynn O'Shaughnessy

It's a harsh reality that nobody is going to lend you money once you reach the age where your daily routine no longer includes breakfast on the go, office intrigue and commuter boredom. While many wannabe retirees are clear about their eagerness to leave the workplace, the escape plans they hatch are often as clearly defined as a pile of Scrabble letters.

Wishy-washy financial projections aren't going to cut it when you're ready to cut the ties to your company's payroll department. Consequently, most people, I'd suggest, are going to need help on whether they've got enough money to last 30 years or more.

One resource I'd recommend for anyone wrestling with these critical questions is a new book, "Getting Started in a Financially Secure Retirement: Pre-and Post-Retirement Planning in a Time of Great Uncertainty." The author is Henry Hebeler, a retired Boeing executive with three degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the creator of a wonderful retirement Web site called Analyze Now! (www.analyzenow.com). The book explores issues that face retirees and those who are contemplating the milestone, including budgeting, the timing of Social Security benefits and investing during retirement.

Too many financial books on the market try to con people into buying them by promising to share all the secrets necessary to be a boffo investor in the time it would take to mow the lawn. In contrast, Hebeler doesn't promise any quick financial miracles. In fact, to get a fix on your own retirement finances, Hebeler expects you to slog your way through his retirement work sheets. Mercifully, the MIT geek has done much of the mathematics for you.

If you feel more comfortable online, Hebeler's Web site provides an easier solution. It offers a variety of retirement software including the Simplified Financial Planner Plus, which is a free software program that is handy for pre-retirees and those who have already retired.

Here's a condensed version of some of the advice Hebeler dispenses in his book and Web site:

- Don't assume you can live on 70 percent of pre-retirement income. People tend to underestimate how much money they will spend in retirement. Particularly in early retirement, you can spend a ton of money using your newfound free time playing, whether it's on the golf course, on a cruise ship or eating your way through early-bird specials. It's better to assume that you will require 100 percent of your income, but you can subtract any retirement savings you've been making, such as contributions to a workplace 401(k) plan. You may also deduct any other costs that will disappear in retirement, such as paying for children's college costs.


Lynn O'Shaughnessy

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of Retirement Bible.

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