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A 50-year-old woman claims she inherited seven figures when her husband passed away, but ended up squandering the funds on ill-fated investments with her money manager — including a beautiful Malibu home by the beach.
With just around $35,000 of the inheritance left and multiple debts to take care of, she told Reddit’s Am I The A-hole (AITA) forum that she decided to liquidate her 16-year-old daughter’s college fund to cover some of the mortgage bills.
“[My daughter] was furious and said she cannot believe all her dad’s work is gone. [She also] said she won’t be supporting me for retirement,” writes the mother, who goes by Throwawayveal-9 on Reddit.
Many of the commenters held the mother responsible for making poor financial choices and hurting her child’s future in the process.
Here are five tips to avoid putting yourself in the same boat to secure a comfortable retirement.
1. Talk to a certified financial professional
You can skip this step if you feel confident enough to tackle your finances on your own — but if you’ve got limited knowledge and experience with handling money (like the aforementioned Reddit mom), it doesn’t hurt to speak with an expert.
Just make sure you do your research first. Don’t be fooled by the first so-called “financial adviser” or “money manager” you meet. Check their credentials and reviews to make sure they’re legit — you may even want to ask for references from previous clients.
It’s important to understand how they get paid as well. A fee-only adviser will earn a flat rate or percentage of the assets they manage, whereas a commission-based adviser is more incentivized to get you to spend money and may recommend certain products or services that are more beneficial for them than they are for you.
2. Settle your debts
Before splurging on the retirement home of your dreams, get your debts out of the way first (so you’re not emptying your kid’s education fund to do it).
Whether you’ve got credit cards to take care of or loans that are languishing behind, make a plan to pay them off. Interest is expensive, so if you’re finding your balance consistently creeps back up each month, you might want to channel your efforts into clearing your highest-interest loans first.
And if you’ve got a pile of bills to take care of, it might be easier to roll them into a single loan with a lower interest rate — so you only have to worry about making a singles payment each month.
Read more: 36% of millionaires say it’ll ‘take a miracle’ to retire amid rising costs and a shaky market — here’s 1 simple way you can protect your nest egg
3. Choose the right retirement account
Deciding which savings vehicle is best to grow your nest egg depends on various factors, like contribution limits, your expected tax bracket in retirement or whether your employer offers matching contributions.
With a 401(k) plan through work, you get to decide how much of your pay you want to contribute and lower your taxable income for the year as well (withdrawals will be taxed as regular income once you hit retirement age).
A traditional IRA also lets you contribute “pre-tax” income, but with lower contribution limits than a 401(k). In comparison, a Roth IRA allows you to make contributions after taxes have already been taken out, so you don’t pay taxes when you withdraw the funds in your retirement years.
4. Make (safe) investments
Once you’ve chosen the right investment vehicle, you can grow your money by investing some of it wisely.
Consider lower-risk assets, especially if you’re new to the game, like a certificate of deposit (CD). If you’re willing to take on a bit more risk, blue-chip dividend stocks are a good option. Just make sure you’re building a diversified portfolio to avoid relying too heavily on one sector.
If you’re hesitant about investing too much of your savings, you can even start off with your spare change and work up from there.
5. Work longer, or get a side hustle
With many soon-to-be retirees concerned about how much money they’ll need to spend their golden years in comfort, you may want to consider other ways to boost your savings.
You could push back retirement and work an extra year.
Or you might take on a side gig outside of your regular 9-to-5. You can even find ways to maximize your income from home, like renting out a room or selling your old stuff on eBay.
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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.