Social Security is not a program intended to replace your full retirement income, but in many cases, it can give you and your spouse a foothold on economic security as you grow older. In May of 2016, Social Security changed many of the rules for collecting your benefits. However, there are still ways to maximize your financial security from the time you retire through the end of your life.

In order to make a living wage today in the U.S., employees are required to have at least a four-year degree. At the same time, the cost of tuition has been on a continuous rise. So for generations X and beyond, student loan debt makes up a large chunk of their total debt. Four short years at college could potentially take decades to pay off if you’re just making minimum payments.

There is hope, however. There are options to pay off debt quickly, get lower interest rates or in some cases, have the debt forgiven. Here are some of your options to chip away at student loan debt so that you can have a little more breathing room in your budget.

Last week, we discussed various types of popular retirement accounts. This week, we tackle more as a way for you to compare and contrast what’s out there and how each plan could potentially make your golden years comfortable and enjoyable. Here are three more popular types of retirement accounts for you to consider. 

401(k), 403(b), TSP

These examples of employer-offered retirement savings accounts are the accounts most people are already familiar with. These are called “defined contribution plans,” and they are primarily funded by you.  Most employers allow you to withhold some of your paycheck and stash it away in one of these accounts, and many employers offer to match some of the savings. These accounts provide for investment options that you choose, with the idea of growing the account beyond what has been put into it. If you leave your job, you can roll over your account contributions into a new 401(k) or 403(b), or you can roll them over into an IRA. In some cases, the employer match must be “vested” over time and may be lost if the time period is not met. What’s the difference between these types of accounts? 401(k)s are usually offered by for-profit companies, while most nonprofit companies use a 403(b), including schools, hospitals, and some governments. Some employers are also offering a Roth 401(k) option, which provides for deferral of after-tax salary and grows tax-free. The TSP (Thrift Savings Plan) is offered by the federal government to its employees, including the military. 2016 contributions allowed are $18,000 ($24,000 over age 50).

Most people will agree that retirement funds aren’t what they used to be. Gone are the days of working at one company for 30 years, getting the gold watch and retiring on a cushy pension. Now it’s primarily up to you, the employee, to save for your later years, which can prove challenging. Fortunately, there are many different ways to save money for retirement. Here are 3 popular options.

We scrimp and save (ideally) every day of our working lives to lead up to a pivotal event: retirement. But once you reach retirement, your first thought might not be “Hurray!” It might be, “Now what?”

There are so many positives to retirement, many of which are financial, but many of which are not. If you’re nearing retirement or if you are just trying to set some goals, here are some benefits to retirement that warrant your consideration.

Getting a large amount of money dropped in your lap sounds like a good problem to have. Whether you’ve inherited a large sum of money, received a big insurance settlement, won the lottery or sold a home or business, a large amount of unexpected cash can create issues if you don’t check yourself right away. Here is what happens to many people when they receive a financial windfall and what you can do if you find yourself in this situation.

Savannah was having a difficult time. Her 85-year-old mother was injured so badly that she was unconscious and had to be transported to the hospital in an ambulance. Once there, Savannah approached the doctor to find out what options were available for her mother and how she could make sure her mother’s wishes were honored regarding potential, necessary life support. Guess what? The doctor could not tell her much because Savannah didn’t have legal authority to be informed or make decisions on her mother’s behalf.

We know each generation is unique, and that doesn’t change when it comes to money management. Technology changes, the economy changes and attitudes change. It makes sense, then, that Generation X (ages 35-50) and Millennials (ages 18-34) sometimes think differently about finances. Here are some trends we’ve seen with these two younger generations.

What would happen if suddenly you found yourself single after being married for thirty years? Or what if you became widowed? Would you be prepared? What if you decided to move in with your significant other? How would that affect you financially, as a woman? These are realistic scenarios. According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, about 9 million women over the age of 60 are living the single life. How are they doing financially?

Meet Melissa. Melissa is happily single, has built her career over many years, owns her own home and is generally able to afford what she needs. Melissa is concerned about saving the right amount to provide for a comfortable retirement, travel, home improvements and the possibility of living to age 100. Melissa is an example of an executive woman.

Executive women are a rapidly growing segment of the population and, like anyone, can use guidance on how to properly invest for their futures. But if you are in this category, you may have different expectations of your financial advisor than men do, as you may have different priorities for your hard earned money. Here are just a few expectations that you, as an executive woman, may want to discuss with your financial advisor.

Do you remember the first time you had to balance a checkbook or apply for a credit card? Were you confident in what you were doing, or did you feel like you were setting foot on an alien planet for the first time? In school, the topic of financial literacy is often neglected, even though it is so critical to everyday adult life. Parents can help prepare their children – especially as children near the end of high school and face heading off to college or living on their own for the first time – by giving them an education in financial literacy. Here are some tips parents can use to help prepare their kids for the world of money management that awaits:

Retirement is meant to be a time to enjoy life without the 9 to 5 toil. But after working for the majority of your life, it can be difficult to find a new normal. You may feel like you’ve lost your sense of purpose in the world, and living without a sense of purpose can actually be detrimental to your health. According to a study from Psychological Science, researchers found that of 7,000 Americans (from the ages of 20 to 75) tracked for 14 years, those who felt they had a direction or purpose in life lived longer than those who did not.

Just because you’re out of the workforce and you’ve raised your family doesn’t mean that you have nothing left to accomplish. The new retirement is a time when you can think about what you truly enjoy without worrying about earning regular income. Here are some excellent ways to reintroduce new goals and ambitions into your life so that you can lead a meaningful existence post-retirement.

Living debt free sounds like a dream come true to most of us. Once upon a time, retirees paid off their mortgages and held mortgage burning rituals upon retirement. But times are changing and pension plans, health insurance for retirees and gold watches are becoming relics of the past.

Retirees today have a much different financial picture. Many retirements are funded by 401k plans with minimal employer contributions, Traditional and Roth IRAs and other self-funded retirement plans. This means planning for retirement looks much different than it did 30 years ago, and the answer to whether or not you should pay off your house upon retirement is not so cut and dry.

Credit is an important part of our financial lives. While it is most important to live within your means and not overextend yourself, some things are necessarily bought over time, such as residences or cars. Other reasons to use credit (wisely) are to take advantage of cash back deals, air miles or other rewards that come with the cards.

By now, most consumers and business owners know that having good credit is key to financial stability. If your score is low, you may have difficulty obtaining credit or pay higher interest rates whenever you need to borrow money for a house or car, or get a loan or credit card. Credit can also affect everything from the ability to rent to job security. Employers, lenders and even auto insurers look at credit reports before they will extend offers. That’s why it’s so important to fully understand what goes into making a credit score, so that you can stay on top of it and ensure you have the highest score possible.

There are several different credit agencies, and they all score slightly differently, but they have a few major factors in common. FICO is the agency most banks turn to. FICO scores range from 300 to 850. Here’s a breakdown of what goes into a FICO credit score.

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