How to Know if Your Retirement is on Track?

Presented by Matt Clayson

The journey to financial independence and wellness starts with saving. But for many people, that can be a challenge, especially in trying economic times.

But there are strategies and mechanisms that can help you get on track for retirement.

If you are not currently saving … start

For people in their younger years, starting a retirement savings plan can be the biggest challenge, but also the most important step toward ensuring financial security and well-being in the future, even if that future seems far off.

Why can it be a challenge? Often, those just starting out in their career and working life are saddled with a large amount of student loan debt. That presents a question about whether it’s better to direct resources to paying off debt or start building a nest egg for retirement. The answer will be different depending on individual circumstances, but will probably lie somewhere in the middle.

Those starting out also likely face lower paychecks than those whose experience have allowed them to command a higher salary. Amid living expenses and day-to-day demands, setting aside money for retirement savings can seem like less of a priority.

Which is a mistake. For one thing, many employers offer incentives for company-sponsored retirement savings programs, typically matching a certain percentage of contributions. Not taking advantage of such saving plans amounts to essentially turning down a pay raise. Also, starting a savings program, especially in early years, takes better advantage of compounding interest over time.

That math can help those starting a savings program in later years, too.

If you think you can’t afford to save, you may want to look at moves to improve your financial wellness and allow at least some funds to go into a savings program. These steps include:

  • Creating a budget. This is central to getting a handle on your personal finances. It will also likely identify areas where cutbacks may be possible in order to direct some money to savings.
  • Learning to manage debt. This is the area that trips up many people. Credit cards can lead consumers to rack up more in obligations than is necessary or wise. On the other hand, some types of debt are necessary. Understanding the kind of debt you have and having a plan to tackle it is a positive step.
  • Managing student loans. For those starting out, student loans may be a part of the debt load. Beyond setting an overall debt plan, investigate the specific options available to you for student loan debt.

Those already saving may still want to take a couple of steps to make sure they are on course to meet their retirement goals.

First and foremost, make sure you are on track. This will help you gauge how your savings are stacking up against your likely needs.

If you are falling behind, you may consider ways to save more, especially if you still have a number of years until your likely retirement. Since many people have some portion of their paycheck deposited directly to a retirement savings account, some simply try increasing that percentage.

Additionally, you may want to do some retirement savings account housekeeping. This can include checking to be sure your beneficiaries are current and taking steps to make sure you are always current on your account status. But, perhaps more importantly, it also includes making sure your investment asset allocation is correct for your age and risk tolerance.

If you are approaching retirement … double check

Estimates vary as to how much in savings you should have to maintain your current standard of living in retirement. They typically range from six to nine times your annual income and can be affected many factors, like geography and market conditions.

If you find that you are falling short, there are steps you can take. For one, most qualified retirement savings plans allow for stepping up contributions as you approach retirement. Make sure you are taking full advantage of those provisions.

Also, you should check on your Social Security status and formulate a claim strategy. Many file for benefits as soon as they can. But benefits grow the longer you wait. So for some, it might make more sense to delay filing, depending on the level of their retirement savings, their health, or the possibility of continuing to work for more years.

Conclusion

No matter your age, saving is a critical element of financial wellness. So, it’s important to understand where you stand in the savings cycle in relation to the retirement you’d like to have. And whether you are early in your working years or nearing retirement, understand the options and steps you can take to try and make sure that your retirement savings meet your needs.

Feel free to reach out to schedule a discussion with our retirement planning specialist.

Risk Management Ideas

As 2022 begins its last quarter, now is a good to review various risk management ideas you may wish to consider and or implement for 2023. Risk Management consists of implementing polices, practices or procedures that reduce the odds of loss or the size of a loss once it occurs. An example of reducing odds of a loss, would be reviewing your employees driving records before you hire them and annually. The better your drivers, the lower the odds of a loss. In addition, training the drivers on what to do after a loss can make a big difference in the size of a loss. Do they know to not offer responsibility, take pictures, get names of other drivers, etc.

All clients want the lowest insurance premiums possible and using risk management practices is a great tool in having lower premiums due to having a more attractive loss history.

Most insurance carriers offer loss control and risk management services at no charge to the client. Consider 2023 as the year to make improvements in this important area of your company’s financial wellbeing. Contact your Cleary Insurance Account Executive to discuss risk management ideas.

Want a Health Boost? Listen to This Type of Music.

Posted by Alyssa Malmquist on August 31, 2022

If you’ve ever felt a surge of well-being while listening to classical music, you’re certainly not alone—and best of all, that doesn’t have to be a temporary feeling. Research indicates that this type of music offers plenty of long-term benefits when it comes to your health.

Improved heart health

Should Mozart and Strauss be part of your heart health strategy? That’s the conclusion of a German study that looked at the effects of classical music compared to other genres. A group of healthy participants listened to either pop music or classical music for just a few hours, and those in the latter group showed lower blood pressure and heart rate after listening.

Even those who already have heart issues could see an advantage. Another study looked at the effects of classical music on participants with heart failure and found that 30 minutes daily for three months resulted in better sleep, lower anxiety and depression, and higher quality of life.

heart failure and clas mus

Better pain control

There’s an effect called “music-induced analgesia,” which means that music can actually reduce pain in a way that’s similar to pain medication. For example, a study on patients with fibromyalgia—a condition that tends to come with considerable, chronic nerve pain—found that listening to music, including classical music, can reduce pain and even improve functional mobility.

fibromyalgia clas mus IG

That study noted that the mechanism is likely related to how music boosts dopamine, one of the hormones related to feelings of well-being. When this happens, your brain may reduce pain signals.

Another study reports that classical music may have an effect on acute pain as well. Researchers found that people recovering from surgery were able to be prescribed lower doses of pain relievers when they listened to this type of music, and even tended to have shorter hospital stays.

More mental clarity

With a more comprehensive amount of mental quiet, it’s much easier to concentrate and focus on tasks at hand, and classical music can be a boon for providing that type of ease.

For example, research published in the Journal of Music Therapy looking at the effects of music written by Mozart versus “new age” music found that both types inspired feelings of thankfulness and love, but participants in the classical music group had substantially higher levels of mental quiet, awe, and wonder.

This seems to be true even for kids. A study from the Institute of Education at the University of London assessed the effects of classical music on children aged 7 to 10 and found that after just six listening sessions, they showed higher levels of concentration and self-discipline.

classical music kids LI

Lower stress

How does classical music stack up against other relaxation techniques? Quite well. One study, published in the journal PLoS One, recruited 60 women and split them into three groups: one that listened to the classical Miserere by composer Gregoria Allegri, one that enjoyed the sound of rippling water, and the last with no sound at all, only rest.

The three groups differed significantly in terms of stress response. While the music group had more stress than the water group while listening, it showed much faster recovery than the other groups. Researchers concluded that because of this, music should be seen as an intervention tool for stress management and stress-related health issues.

That last item is particularly important, because stress has been shown to contribute to a range of health issues, including low back pain, cardiovascular disease, even some cancers. Lowering stress levels in a way that helps you bounce back quickly from stressors can potentially mitigate these risks.

What about other music?

If you’re not a fan of classical music, good news: Other types of music have also been shown to be beneficial to your mental and physical health, especially if it’s music that makes you feel a deeper sense of relaxation or joy.

For instance, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley looked at the reactions of over 2,500 people to thousands of song samples, and found that multiple types of music prompt emotions like amusement, cheerfulness, desire, dreaminess, and triumph. Although they can also evoke feelings of sadness or annoyance, it depends on what type of music you choose.

The lead researcher noted that music is a universal language, but that we don’t always pay enough attention to what it’s saying and how it’s being understood. Taking the time to incorporate more music into your life—classical or otherwise—could be an important step toward learning this language and supporting your health along the way.

To learn more about physical wellness, plus a fresh perspective on overall health and wellness, download Allways eBook.

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