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TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR RETIREMENT PLANNING, A FOUR STEP PLAN CAN GET YOU STARTED

 TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR RETIREMENT PLANNING,
 A FOUR STEP PLAN CAN GET YOU STARTED
 HARTFORD, Conn., April 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Whether you're 45 or 65, it's time to take charge of your retirement planning.
 "In the past, personal savings, a company pension and Social Security often provided enough money for retirement. Today, that's no longer the case. In the future, it will be even riskier to count on these resources alone," said Georgina Lucas, vice president, The Travelers Mature Americans Program. She points to several reasons why:
 -- Over the next 30 years, the 50-plus population is expected to grow by 74 percent, while the under-50 population will grow by less than one percent. As the number of active workers contributing to Social Security continues to decline, less money will be available to support a larger retiree population;
 -- Pension coverage, after increasing for many years, is starting to decline, and many corporations now require employees to make contributions to their own pension plans;
 -- As more of the population moves into advanced years, people may experience more serious and chronic illnesses requiring expensive, long- term medical care.
 "Without a doubt, people must assume more responsibility for their own retirement security," advised Lucas. "Early planning helps ensure that there will be sufficient funds to enjoy a secure and healthy retirement."
 Although people tend to shy away from budgets and financial planning, learning to enhance your money management skills is easy. Follow these four steps and you'll be on your way to mastering the basic skills of money management and retirement planning: define your goals; determine your net worth; develop a realistic, workable budget; and invest wisely.
 You probably have some idea of what you want your life to be like in five or 10 years, and in retirement. But chances are, you've never put these goals down on paper. Identifying your goals will provide clear direction. Determining your net worth -- assets minus liabilities -- will establish a good starting point for planning. Developing a realistic, workable budget begins with taking an in-depth look at your current budget -- adding up fixed expenses and figuring out how your discretionary income is spent.
 Once you've done that, compare your spending habits with those that experts consider reasonable based on age, family status and income. You can obtain a copy of a "model" budget from a financial planner or from a financial magazine. Then, the tough work begins -- figuring how to cut spending and increase savings.
 "Living by a budget doesn't automatically mean total sacrifice," stated Lucas. "There are some relatively simple, painless steps a person can take to manage expenses." These steps include: setting up an emergency fund; putting a percentage of your paycheck into savings before paying bills; taking advantage of payroll savings and automatic deposit plans; depositing pay increases, bonuses and monetary gifts into savings; protecting yourself and your family through adequate insurance; refinancing your mortgage; limiting credit cards to one, and finding a card with the best interest rate; reducing long-distance phone expenses by calling during off-peak hours and rate shopping among phone companies; reducing transportation expenses; setting aside money for each family member; talking to a financial planner, tax advisor or certified public accountant about ways to cut taxes.
 "Investing wisely means setting goals, determining how much money you have and when you need it, establishing the degree of risk you are willing to take, and considering your stage of life," according to Lucas.
 A wide variety of investment opportunities, including annuities, life insurance, long-term care insurance, CDs, government securities and stocks and bonds are considered good risks. Moreover, there are a number of specific retirement plans, including individual retirement accounts, Keough plans and 401(k) plans that you should consider.
 "People who plan ahead are more likely to have a secure retirement," Lucas said.
 -0- 4/28/92
 /CONTACT: Jim Ventrilio of The Travelers Companies, 203-954-1825/ CO: The Travelers Companies ST: Connecticut IN: SU:


SM -- NYSFNS3 -- 3492 04/28/92 07:13 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 28, 1992
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