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Sunday, February 8, 2004

Where do you begin?

40 years to retirement

"Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties," by Beth Kobliner, Simon & Schuster, 2000, $14. An excellent graduation gift.

This mutual-fund site explains retirement terms, helps you calculate if your savings plan will suffice

30 years to retirement

"The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers are Going Broke," Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Tyagi, Basic Books, 2003, $26. Bankruptcy expert offers creative suggestions for maximizing the power of two incomes; targets those who overextend on mortgages and fail to save.

"Kitchen Table Investor: Low-Risk, Low-Maintenance Wealth-Building Strategies for Working Families," John Wasik, Henry Holt, 2000, $14. Usable ideas for incorporating savings into any budget while minimizing risk.

The nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute has lots of links and tips

"Financially Fearless by 40: Simple Strategies for Upgrading Your Thirtysomething Lifestyle," Jason Anthony, Plume, 2003, $14. Weddings, babies, houses: How to navigate them while maintaining a savings plan.

20 years to retirement

"We're Not in Kansas Anymore: Strategies for Retiring Rich in a Totally Changed World," Walter Updegrave, Crown, available March 2004, $24. Achieving retirement security in today's low-interest-rate economy.

AARP money-management site isn't just for retirees.

10 years to retirement

A must-visit for every U.S. citizen. Estimates your future benefits, eligibility dates. While you're here, verify the accuracy of your name, Social Security number, work history.

"The Retirement Savings Time Bomb and How to Defuse It," Ed Slott, Viking Adult, 2003, $25. IRA expert on minimizing Uncle Sam's bite.

"The New Retirementality: Planning Your Life and Living Your Dreams ... at Any Age You Want," by Mitch Anthony, Dearborn Trade Publishing, $16.95. The financial and life planner's cleverly named concept should be of interest to anyone uneasy with the traditional requirement that Americans totally drop one portion of their lives — the working part — simply because they've reached a certain age.

Women and Minorities

Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement: Nonprofit institute devoted to promoting economic long-term security for women; funded by Teresa Heinz Kerry. Extensive resources, links and fact sheets.

Women's Financial Network. Web site of Muriel Seibert, Wall Street female pioneer and financial expert.

"Rightfully Yours: How to Get Past-Due Child Support, Alimony and Your Ex's Pension," Gary A. Shulman, Self-Counsel Press, $15. Focuses on two issues of importance to a number of ex-spouses: How to secure your share of your ex-spouse's pension benefits earned during the marriage, and how to obtain past-due alimony and child support payments from your ex's pension, profit-sharing or 401(k) savings plan.

"How to Succeed in Business Without Being White," Earl G. Graves, HarperBusiness, $15. From the authoritative publisher of Black Enterprise, successful monthly magazine for African Americans in business.

American Savings Education Council's site is filled with interactive worksheets and calculators, in Spanish as well as English.

"Making the Most of Your Money," Jane Bryant Quinn, Simon & Schuster, 1997, $30. One-thousand authoritative pages about every conceivable legal investment strategy, including the pros and cons of different retirement products.

"Women and Retirement Savings," and "QDROs: The Division of Pensions through Qualified Domestic Relations Orders" (for example, divorce orders). Request these two, free booklets from the Employee Benefits Security Administration at 800-998-7542.

"Social Security: What Every Woman Should Know." Call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 for this free booklet or

Further reading

The Seattle Times series on obtaining health insurance:

What to ask to select best insurance plan
How to buy your own health insurance
Where to go for low-cost — or free — medical help

Seattle Times columnist Liz Taylor's six-part series on long-term-care insurance:

1) Longer lives, so long-term insurance is becoming a must
2) Reality check: Government doesn't pay for care
3) Focus on essential elements when shopping for long-term care insurance
4) 3 more essentials of care insurance to think about
5) Long-term insurance costs: Here are five factors driving them
6) Long-term care Q&A: Get ready for the storm

"Get a Life: You Don't Need a Million to Retire Well," Ralph E. Warner, Nolo, 2002, $24.99. Don't panic, this author advises. Instead, align your values and goals with your finances and resolve to thrive, not just survive, in your later years.

"The New Retirementality: Planning Your Life and Living Your Dreams ... at Any Age You Want," by Mitch Anthony, Dearborn Trade Publishing, $16.95. The financial and life planner's cleverly named concept should be of interest to anyone uneasy with the traditional requirement that Americans totally drop one portion of their lives — the working part — simply because they've reached a certain age.

You can order these free booklets from Employee Benefits Security Administration at 800-998-7542 or

"Protect Your Pension" Includes 10 warning signs a company isn't complying with federal pension law.

"A Look at 401(k) Plan Fees" Plan fees and expenses reduce the amount of retirement benefits you receive from these plans. It's in your interest to learn as much as you can about your plan's administrative fees, investment fees and service fees.

"Savings Fitness: A Guide to Your Money and Your Financial Future" Starts you on the way to setting goals and putting your retirement high on the list of personal priorities.

 Online planning

Free online retirement-planning program includes worksheets to determine how long your estate will last and how increasing or decreasing 401(k) contributions affects retirement savings.

Offers a free online retirement-planning program.

Retirement-planning site of a former Boeing president, Bud Hebeler.

Information about pension issues from the Pension Rights Center, a consumer organization, 1140 19th St. N.W., Suite 602, Washington, DC 20036.

Learn more about paying off your credit card balance from Consolidated Credit Counseling Services at

Online calculators

Financial calculators

Are you saving enough? Visit Kiplinger's for tools:
Link Calculator tool

List of calculators available From the editors of CNN and Money Magazine, a list of calculator tools
Link List of calculators

Link Retirement calculator

The calculator feature on AARP's Web site takes into account many factors in such loans, including your age, equity and value of your home, and estimates what such a mortgage might cost.

Life expectancy calculators

An individual's life expectancy varies with a number of factors, including gender, age, weight, height, education, family medical history, personal medical history, health status, diet, exercise, and general lifestyle. Some life expectancy calculators use more detailed information than others in determining longevity.

The Seattle Times Aging Well series life expectancy calculator

The following Web sites also offer personal life expectancy calculators:

Link calculator
Link calculator
Link calculator

Professional Assistance

Finding a financial planner

National Association of Personal Financial Planners offers referrals to its members, who are fee-only planners who meet entrance and continuing-education standards and comply with the group's code of ethics: 800-366-2732 or

The Garrett Planning Network offers referrals to its fee-only advisers, who specialize in serving middle-income clients with consulting on an hourly basis: 866-260-8400 or

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards has a list of certified financial planners in this area who have met educational and experience requirements and passed an exam. Also available is a helpful checklist, "Ten Questions To Ask When Choosing a Financial Planner": 888-237-6275 or

The American Institute of CPAs will give you a list of the CPAs in this state who are also personal financial specialists, meaning they have at least three years in personal financial planning, have passed a test and have taken continuing education: 888-999-9256 or

Leaving a legacy

American Council on Gift Annuities: More about gift annuities and other forms of planned gifts through this nonprofit organization, (317) 269-6271 or

Estate Planning Council of Seattle: Estate-tax planning strategies, wills, trusts and more, 206-285-4066 or

Leave a Legacy of Western Washington: Local and national resources for starting or improving a personal planned-giving program

New Tithing: "How to Evaluate Non-profit Organizations" and other resources from this nonprofit group and private foundation

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