How Do You Envision Your Retirement?

It's never too late to start planning for retirement. But the earlier you begin, the likelier it is that you'll have the freedom to live those years in the manner you choose.

Here are four important steps to take now to set up your retirement plans.

Pin Down Your Vision -- The conventional picture of retirement has been one of leisure (cue the extended golf game). But to an increasing number of people, that vision now includes employment -- whether it's extending an existing job or business into retirement, or taking a new path with part-time or volunteer work. Know which version is a fit for you.

Estimate Expenses -- Next, calculate how much you'll need to fund that lifestyle. Estimate your retirement expenses. Will you still have a mortgage? Will you relocate? What about health care costs? (Here's a calculator for those.) Don't forget travel and other discretionary spending too.

Identify Income Streams -- Now identify any sources of income you will have. Social Security is usually the first that comes to mind. Though that system isn't designed to be a primary income stream, Social Security provides an average of about 40 percent of a pre-retirement salary. (Get a more accurate estimate based on your actual earnings here.) Pensions, annuities, stock dividends and part-time employment are other income sources to consider.

Build Your Savings -- Your retirement savings are meant to bridge any gaps between your expected income and expenses. Your best bets for socking away funds: IRAs and work-based 401(k) plans.
There's the traditional IRA, which saves you taxes now (if you qualify) while you're still working and likely to be in a higher tax bracket. There's also a Roth IRA, which provides tax-free withdrawals during retirement. (You pay the tax man now, although there are income-eligibility restrictions.) As for a 401(k), your contribution lowers the income you're currently taxed on and often results in a matching contribution from your employer. Take advantage of that free money.

Take these four simple steps now and you may find that your retirement years become your happiest!
Source: Sharon Floyd - Residence Lending (210) 317-8834

Road Trip? Tips for Comfort in the Drive

 If you are planning a road trip or are on the road a lot as part of your job, here's some tips keep you more comfortable...

Adjust Your Seat: Adjust your seat so your legs are neither bunched up nor so far from the pedals that you feel the stretch in your hamstrings. recommends tilting the seatback at around a 100-110 degree angle in relation to the bottom of the seat. This evenly distributes the weight between your thighs and your buttocks, allowing you to lean back ever so slightly.

Let Your Mirror Be Your Guide: Here's a simple trick that will help you maintain proper posture. Sit up straight and adjust the mirror so that the reflection is lined up with the top edge of the rear window. If you start to slouch, the reflection will shift, reminding you to straighten your spine.

Add Extra Lumbar Support: Even some very nice cars come with little in the way of lumbar support, but you can add a cushion that supports your lower back. Brookstone sells a variety of cushions filled with memory foam that just might give your back some much needed relief.

Relax Your Grip: If you find yourself stuck in traffic or making your way through a busy part of town, you might succumb to the temptation to grip the steering wheel a little too tightly. This places extra stress on the joints in your fingers and your wrist. When you notice you're doing the vice grip, try to relax with a deep breath or two. It's good for the mind and the body!

Stop and Stretch: Long, uninterrupted drives can reduce blood flow and cause muscle cramps. Consider stopping and stretching your legs to break up a longer trip if your schedule allows.   

Source: Old Republic Home Warranty