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Most people think they’ll be ready to retire when they hit a certain age or accumulate a set amount of assets. Unfortunately, they rarely do the math to determine whether their savings will sustain them after they retire. According to the 2015 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, only 48% of workers reported that they or their spouses have tried to calculate how much money they’ll need to live comfortably in retirement, and people who did attempt this calculation generally ‘guesstimated’ the numbers.

The EBRI found that most Americans spend more time preparing for the holidays than for retirement.

To stay out of financial trouble after you retire, it’s important to start planning well ahead of time. And that involves taking a hard look at the numbers.

Work the problem

Retirement projection is a big math problem, and to get the right answer, you must plug in the right figures. To start, you must have a good grasp of how much income you can expect from retirement income streams such as Social Security and pensions.

The next step is crucial: understanding how much you’re going to spend in retirement. This can be much tougher to predict, but accurate projections can mean the difference between having adequate funds for the rest of your life and outliving your savings. Neglecting this important step before making the decision to retire is unwise; deciding when to retire should be based on your financial capacity.

That’s because once you’re retired, your main source of income ends, and expenses will be covered out of savings, investments and retirement income streams. Spending is perhaps the biggest variable in retirement planning calculations. It’s easy to be complacent during working years, when a steady paycheck is coming in. So it makes sense that a huge paradigm shift occurs when the paychecks stop and cash flow shortages have to be covered from savings. Creating your own paycheck from your savings can be overwhelming.

Set a retirement spending plan

For all of these reasons, establishing a realistic retirement budget is critical. To do this effectively, consider these steps:

1. Envision your life during retirement. Make a list of what you’ll be doing and how you’ll be living. What will a typical day look like? What kinds of hobbies or volunteer work will you participate in? Will you embark on a second career? How much will you travel? Will you move to another location or maintain two residences? How much support will you provide for your kids and grandkids? What is on your bucket list and how much will realizing it cost?

2. Keep track of your current spending for at least three months. Be sure to include expenses that occur less frequently, such as insurance and dues.

3. Review this spending record. My clients are often surprised to see where they’re spending their money. This exercise enables them to align their spending with their goals, values and desires. They’re more committed to a spending plan once they have determined where their money is going because this prompts them to set priorities to ensure that they don’t spend frivolously or on items that aren’t priorities.

4. Make changes in your spending now to reflect the retirement lifestyle you envision. How will your expenses change upon retiring? Does your spending jibe with the goals you identified in the first step? Be sure to revise entries for certain expense categories, such as travel, entertainment and housing, to reflect these goals. Don’t forget to account for uncovered medical expenses and supplemental health insurance premiums, including Medicare Part B.

Watch your withdrawal rates

Once you have put together a spending plan, you can determine how much of your expenses would be covered from your investments. Most financial planners recommend that people who retire at 65 withdraw no more than 4% of savings annually. If you withdraw much more than that, you’re likely to outlive your funds, so you might need to work longer. If you retire earlier than 65, you will likely need to adjust that withdrawal rate downward, as you’ll be making withdrawals longer.

Consider working with a financial planner who specializes in retirement planning. He or she can walk you through the planning process and potentially give you confidence about the capacity of your investment portfolio to provide adequate income after you retire. The planner can also help you realize that you’re not on track and need to make changes.

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Social networking sites, such as Facebook, have millions of users worldwide where they share important details about themselves, their lives, their families and their friends. Because of the simplicity of being able to keep in contact, it has gained po[censored] rity over the years. However, this po[censored] rity has also lead to one big disadvantage; that is, online identity theft. Many Facebook users tend to over-share information about themselves which is exactly what identity thieves. Overtime, Facebook has become a valuable tool for thieves to common online theft and fraud.

Thieves can fake your identity to gain access to your friends

Sometimes, it’s just a simple account invasion that thieves can use to perpetrate their crime. Identity thieves can use Facebook to hack a victim’s account, create an extremely similar-looking account and use that fake account to target the victim’s network of friends. How were they able to do this? You may have fallen victim to phishing tactics (clicking on su[censored] ious links where thieves can hack your information) without knowing it. It’s a bad idea indeed to click on links sent by anonymous individuals, but, it’s not always you that thieves want to target. Often they just intend to use you as a medium to gain a lot more information about other people – your friends. How? When they gather enough information about you – through phishing or other id theft tactics (another po[censored] r one uses a screenshot of your main page) – they then can create a fake account that appears to be you and use it to add your friends. Now, they closely watch your friends to continue the process, gathering the information they want – where they live, what’s their full name, whether they have pets, whether they go to school or work, and others. Because your friends believe that it’s you they’re connecting to, they often publish plenty of information that hackers can use to crack passwords or verify security questions. It’s true that identity thieves can already use whatever information they have on hand to victimize you, but they will be better off using your identity to gain access and victimize your friends. The more information gathered, the more opportunities to create ill-gained profits from those victims and not you alone.

Other cons are simpler and crooks can get fast cash with the help of your fake profile. Creative crooks can just message your friends asking for their help. For instance, the thief assuming your identity can say that you’re out of the country, your do[censored] ents and money are all lost, and you need instant cash to help get back home as soon as possible. Concerned, friends may be tricked into transferring money to the con artist.

Prevent online theft – tips to proactively protect your identity even in social networking

If you’re using Facebook, the following tips can help you, your family and friends, stay protected from the risks of identity theft.

• Always review your account’s privacy settings to make sure that the information you share or post is visible or can be read only by people you want to share it with.

• Even if a message came from a friend or relative, you must also treat it with the same skepticism as you would treat other chat or email messages from strangers – especially if they’re requesting you to click on a link or parti[censored] te in a survey of some sort.

• It’s important that you create a strong password for your Facebook account and change it regularly, as well. This prevents thieves from easily accessing your account.

• Consider signing up for identity theft protection services, which can help you detect if someone is misusing your information for illicit activities – such as opening new lines of credit or using your name to apply for a utility services.

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