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Money Matter$

By: John Shepard

Date Posted: 2003-07-24

The Lord willing and if the creek don¡¯t rise, you will be 55 or 65 years old someday. Your monthly paycheck will stop but your monthly expenses won¡¯t ¡ª so start now to look into how to live well after you retire. Have you noticed that many people who make $30,000 a year spend $30,000 a year? The same goes for some people who make $200,000 a year. Maybe that¡¯s ok during the good earning years. But what happens when those high incomes stop?

And what about the people we know or read about who made huge money but went broke anyway? The answer to the problem, whether you're making $25,000 a year or ten times that amount, is savings and investments.

Here is just one example: You can save about $ 600 a year by eating out less. When you retire, that will amount to about $34,000. Of course, if you have invested faithfully in a savings or investment program, it could be a lot more than that.

The coffee shop at the USO sells some great flavored coffees that cost about $5 a cup. I have a 30-year-old friend who says she "has at least 3 cups a week!"

What if my friend took that $15 a week and at the end of the month put the $60 toward her retirement? And what if she only did this during her four year Okinawa tour? She would have a grand total of $2880. Then, what if she invested that $60/month for the next four years in a retirement account like a Roth IRA or her TSP. By age 60, when most retirement accounts allow you to withdraw your money without any penalties, her ¡°coffee money¡± could grow to as much as $15,800 (using the G-fund) or potentially $32,900 (using the C-fund). With recent tax law changes and military benefits changes, you should weigh your options so you know you¡¯re making the best decision possible.

I recently met two of the four consultants working for First Command Financial Planning Services here in Okinawa. The company is over 45 years old, with headquarters in Ft. Worth, Texas. Chantel LeMaster and Fred Shirley told me that their job is to help military personnel in Okinawa assess their financial goals over the next 10, 20 or 30 years.

The next time you're on leave, take a good look at the older people you know... maybe relatives or friends of relatives. Ask the ones who are financially secure how they did it. They will probably tell you that savings and investments replace the wages or other income they were able to get when they were young.¡¡Your comments and suggestions are welcome. My email address is: johnshepardj@yahoo.com.

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