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January 25, 2010 Monday 5:47 PM EST
SECTION: PERSONAL FINANCE; Personal Finance Daily
LENGTH: 1126 words
HEADLINE: Grow your retirement savings, shrink your house
Don’t miss these top stories:
Figuring out how much you’ll need to save for retirement is a complex calculation. You have to estimate how many years your savings must last — that means assessing how long you might live. And you need to figure out how high your expenses will be — that means estimating your retirement costs, which are bound to be different from the expenses you face while working. Those two calculations alone are enough to make an eager retirement saver look for something — anything — more fun to do.
While it can be tough to figure it all out, until you do — or until you find a financial planner to help you — it makes sense to send as much money as you can into your retirement-savings account. Read Jonathan Burton’s story today for three simple, smart tips on how to best do exactly that.
Plus, read Steve Kerch’s story on how the economic downturn is forcing changes in the look, feel and location of retirement homes.
One change that’s not so surprising: People want smaller homes. Oops. This weekend my husband, daughter and I moved into a 1,700-square-foot house (from an 850-square-foot condo). Love the space; not so excited about that first heating bill.
— , assistant personal finance editor
SPECIAL REPORT: RETIREMENT OUTLOOK
Economy forces changes in thinking about retirement homes
If your idea of a dream retirement home is a luxury contemporary overlooking a championship golf course in the desert, you better be prepared for some mighty small block parties: When it comes to retirement living, golf courses are out.
Three smart, simple steps to a more financially secure retirement
Bitten by the bear one too many times and uncertain about their jobs and the economy, investors have avoided stocks even after the market’s rapid ascent. Indeed, the market’s strong rebound over the past 10 months only makes many sidelined buyers more afraid to get on board. Their mantra: We won’t get fooled again.
A lesson in retirement saving
Veteran personal-finance writer Jane Bryant Quinn says parents should focus on retirement savings before kids’ college costs, but the new Roth IRA rules can be a great way to benefit heirs. MarketWatch’s Jonathan Burton reports.
Home prices won’t rise soon
Expiring tax credit for home buyers pressured home sales in December and then the credit was extended, so we’re in uncharted territory in terms of volatility, according to Trulia CEO Peter Flint, who says prices aren’t going up over the next six to 12 months. Stacey Delo reports.
Existing-home sales plummet
Sales of U.S. existing homes plunged 16.7% in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.45 million from 6.54 million in November as a popular tax credit was set to expire, a national real estate trade group estimated Monday.
ECONOMY & POLITICS
Obama unveils new aid for middle class
The White House rolls out a batch of initiatives designed to help out middle-class Americans shortly before President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address.
Obama proposes middle-class plan
Watch footage of President Barack Obama addressing a meeting of the Middle-Class Task Force, headed by Vice President Joe Biden. Video courtesy of Fox Business Network.
Bernanke likely to win second term: analysts
A firestorm of doubt that erupted late last week over whether lawmakers’ support for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was eroding has been all but extinguished almost as quickly, with key members of the Senate saying it looked like he has the votes to be confirmed for a second four-year term.
Will new rules tame the Wall Street tiger?
There is an old saying that good politics makes bad laws. President Obama’s proposal this week to restrict the size and scope of banks, effectively reviving the Depression-era Banking Act, or “Glass-Steagall,” is certainly good politics. It puts the Republicans back on the defensive and distracts attention from the wounded health-care bill. But will the new plan lead to good laws?
How to make extra money
Jennifer Winslow wanted to earn some extra cash without giving up the flexibility of working part time. An avid cook, she and a friend initially planned to cater meals for busy families. When that turned out to be too time consuming, she tried baking. More than five years later, she has a thriving bakery business in Winslow, Maine (her husband’s family has been in town a long time).
Help with medical bills
A diagnosis of cancer or other serious disease can be devastating to one’s financial as well as physical health — even for people with insurance. But there are a handful of programs that can help ease the monetary burden.
Relief from alternative minimum tax?
Has Congress done anything yet about the alternative minimum tax for 2009? It seems to have gotten lost in all the focus on health-care legislation.
THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE
Boy raises over $48,000 for Haiti
Charlie Simpson, a 7-year-old London boy, raised more than $48,000 to help survivors of the Haitian earthquake. Courtesy of Sky News.
In the ‘ETF or mutual fund?’ debate, investors miss the point
It was an ordinary press release that was largely ignored by the media, but the recent announcement of a new trade group for the exchange-traded fund industry sends a clear signal about what’s next in the evolution of ETFs and how they’re viewed by the public.
Regional-bank ETFs sidestep recent financial-sector carnage
Exchange-traded funds that invest in regional-banking stocks have outperformed the broad financial sector so far in 2010 on hopes that smaller lenders’ credit losses are easing and that they’ll be affected less by potential financial regulation.
Doing good, but not always well
Investing in socially responsible funds has become increasingly popular, driven most recently by growing concern about climate change. But socially responsible investing goes back some time — nearly 300 years if you consider John Wesley’s Methodist notions. He argued that investors should shun businesses that profit through vices such as alcohol, tobacco or gambling.
Pawning the Picasso
When art collectors are strapped for cash, they increasingly turn to pawn shops.
New Year, new resume
It’s the New Year, when many people start self-improvement projects. So isn’t it time for your resume to turn over a new leaf as well? MarketWatch’s Charlie Turner says it’s not too late to update your New Year’s resolutions — and your resume.
A career-life crisis
In the new movie “Up in the Air,” Anna Kendrick stars opposite George Clooney as Natalie Keener, an ambitious new college graduate who takes a job at a company whose business is to fire people.
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