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Our 5 Star Retirement Plan is built on 5 key pillars.
See below the five things you can do right now to help improve your retirement outlook:

1. Make an income plan.

As a financial advisor, the number one question we hear is, "How do I build a plan so that I won't run out of money for myself or my spouse during our lifetime?”

Start by noting how much money you'll need to cover your expenses, including fixed expenses (mortgage or rent payments, insurance premiums, etc.), variable expenses (clothing, car maintenance), debt (outstanding student loans for yourself or your children, credit cards) and any one-offs (a new roof, for example, or a big vacation you plan to take).

Next, determine your guaranteed sources of income, such as Social Security or a pension that will be used to pay those expenses. If they aren't enough, your adviser can help you find others.

2. Make a protection plan.

You probably wouldn't consider going without fire insurance for your home, even though the odds of your house burning down are low—about 3%.

Similarly, it's important to hedge against risks that can "burn down" your income plan. For one example, the chances are much higher than in the past that you'll have some kind of long-term care need that is expensive and ongoing, especially considering we are all living longer. As a result, you'll want to be prepared for this very real risk.

Some estate planning is also in order to protect against taxes—particularly in states that have an estate tax, as the exemptions levels are usually much lower than the federal level. And you'll want to make sure that if one spouse passes away, the other will have enough income to last the rest of his or her life.

3. Make an appreciation plan.

Now that those first two pillars of your retirement plan are taken care of, it's time to determine how to continue growing your money.

Whether it's conservative or aggressive risk, it's up to you, because these are the dollars you will have left after you've built your income and protection plans.

4. Make a tax plan.

The goal, of course, is to keep your taxes as low as possible. (Two advisors on our team are also Certified Public Accountants and former IRS agents. So tax efficiency is important to us.)

There are a variety of ways to do this. One example is to use separately managed accounts as opposed to mutual funds. Both are managed by professional portfolio managers, and they may even contain some of the same holdings. But owners of separately managed accounts have more flexibility to buy and sell securities in ways that have favorable tax consequences.

5. Make a legacy and estate plan.

To put to rest any concerns about taking care of loved ones in the future, consult with an attorney to be sure to get all the legal documents necessary to ensure the efficiency of your estate, including a health care power of attorney, financial power of attorney, health care directives, wills and trusts.

Smart strategizing also can help reduce estate taxes, so if you didn't address this in your protection plan, get to it during estate planning.

Perhaps you've already begun pushing the pieces of your own five-pillared retirement plan into place. Typically, five years prior to retirement is a good time to sit down with a financial adviser to prepare your retirement goals.


If you would like to learn more on how we can help you, call us at (800) 782-2136 to schedule a no-obligation meeting with one of our advisors.

We are an independent financial services firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of investment and insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives.

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Harlow Wealth Management is an investment adviser and insurance agency registered with State of Washington and other states, who have not verified nor endorsed the statements on this site. Harlow Wealth Management may transact business only in those states where it is licensed or qualified for an exemption or exclusion from licensing requirements. This website should not be interpreted as a solicitation to offer investment advisory services to residents of any state where we are not authorized to do so. Individualized responses that involve personalized investment advice will not be made absent compliance with jurisdictional requirements where an exemption or exclusion is not available.

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