The good news, according to a new study, is that you are likely to outlive your expectations. The bad news is that you might also outlive your retirement.

About 25 years ago, the Brookings Institution posed a question to a large sampling of Americans older than 50: What are your chances of living to the age of 75? Of those who gave themselves a 50 percent chance of reaching 75, about three-quarters made it. Of those who said they had no chance of making it a ripe old age -- about 7 percent of the respondents -- roughly half of them did live that long.

In other words, Americans tend to vastly underestimate how long they will live, and that means they vastly underestimate how much money they will need in retirement. Individuals do not fully understand the longevity risk they face, wrote Benjamin Harris and Katharine G. Abraham, the studys authors. Or, as Christopher Ingraham wrote for The Washington Post: As a society, we are somewhat obsessed with the risks of dying -- from car crashes, cancer, terrorists, Ebola, or any of the thousands of mortal terrors that haunt our nightly newscasts. But were less accustomed to consider the risks of living long -- of outliving our retirement savings.

Concerns about the state of retirement are nothing new. For years, there has been much hand-wringing about the long-term solvency of the Social Security system; most individual retirement plans have moved away from company pensions and toward self-directed plans such as a 401(k); and the economic meltdown of the past decade has altered retirement plans for older workers, younger workers and everybody in between. Time Magazine presented a cover story in June under the headline, 2030: The Year Retirement Ends.

So, the Brookings Institution study could be chalked up as one more reason to worry about retirement, but it also should serve as a reason for a personal reassessment. To start with, if your company offers a 401(k) program, you should enroll in it. Financial experts recommend contributing enough to glean the maximum in matching funds -- essentially receiving free money that will grow over time.

But perhaps most important is a need for Congress to address the future of Social Security. Republicans long have campaigned on a platform of being fiscally responsible, and their newly increased power in Congress will provide them with an opportunity to demonstrate that wisdom. If nothing changes, analysts say that by 2033, the Social Security Trust Fund will be able to pay recipients only 77 percent of the funds that have been promised.

In an age of economic uncertainty in which many people are managing paycheck to paycheck, the thought of long-range savings is difficult for some to embrace. But the need is critical. The Employment Benefit Research Institute calculates that 41 to 43 percent of Americans are at risk of running out of money in retirement, and similar studies have come up with even more dire projections.

All of which brings us back to the Brookings study. If most people are living longer than they expected to, then it is time to reconfigure your individual predictions. With life-spans increasing and Social Security on shaky financial footing going forward, Ingraham wrote for the Post, people are going to be depending more on their personal savings and retirement accounts to support them through old age. In order to assess how much money well actually need, we first need to have a realistic sense of how long well live.



Saving Money Remains Low Priority In US ยป Financial Security Index Charts

Financial security in the US rose in November to the highest level in five months, according to a national Bankrate survey.

Americans noted improving confidence in job security, debt, net worth and overall financial situation in the monthly tally. Overall, their responses pushed Bankrates Financial Security Index to 101.3. Thats the highest since June, when it hit 101.5. Any reading above 100 indicates improved financial security over the past 12 months.

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Despite the general financial security, Americans still noted a lagging comfort level with their personal savings when compared with the previous year. Nearly one-third said theyre less comfortable with their savings, while one-fifth said theyre more comfortable.

The telephone survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from Nov. 6 to 9 with 1,000 adults living in the continental US It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.



MASON CITY

Three secrets to help prevent buyers remorse during the holidays work any time of year.

In short, know what you want, stay focused and plug leaks, said Brenda Schmitt, a human sciences family finance field specialist working in 10 North Iowa counties with Iowa State Extension. She recently taught an interactive online personal finance course.

A story about a boy who was encouraged by his mom to save money for the hunting bow he wanted illustrated the importance of goals. Midstream he wanted a gaming system but stuck to his goal. Once he got his bow and his deer, he went on to save for fishing equipment. Mom wondered what happened to the gaming system but realized it never actually became his top priority.

You want to make sure you have your list and stay focused, Schmitt said.

Time and money are our two biggest resources. People who have budgets and stick to them experience less stress and frustration than those who dont, she said.

Schmitt discourages people from having one pile of money for fun and another for household expenses. Its all your money and where all of it goes matters.

She walked through the process of creating a simple budget. Using a worksheet, she asked class participants to assign a dollar value for household expenses.

First, basic necessities like the roof over your head, medicine, and car so you can get to work, Schmitt said. After that, put a figure on variable expenses like food, clothing, recreation, gifts, insurance, utility payments.

When working with clients, Schmitt often asks how much they spend on birthdays or Christmas. People will say it depends on how much they have.

Thats the wrong answer, she said.

The amount that will be spent on gifts should be decided ahead of time. If the budget is tight this Christmas, Schmitt advises people to share that with other family members. In this economy, that may simply be the reality.

She remembers a mom who who was upset about the upcoming holiday season.

They had gotten themselves in such a financial bind, Schmitt said.

Continuing the illusion that money grows on trees helps no one. She advised her to look at the situation as a learning opportunity for everyone.

Her kids were all adults, Schmitt said. They really toned it down.

Each child received one gift from the parents. Afterward, everyone agreed it had been the best Christmas theyd ever had, Schmitt said.

They made really good memories with time spent together doing things rather than giving things, she said.

Schmitt urges people to make a decision to begin saving so they can draw on that pool of money for expenses. Savings may start out small, perhaps with a third pay check in one month, a tax refund or a bonus. Once established, pay a set amount into personal savings every paycheck or every month.

The advantage to this would be the money is going to be sitting there, she said. Youll have it when you need it.

One person Schmitt worked with opened a bank account in a neighboring town so it was less convenient to draw money out. Within six months, she had a savings account for the first time and $2,000.

If accustomed to using a credit card, wrapping it in a note as a reminder of the new savings goal may be helpful. One client tempted by television shopping offers put a note on her TV remote.

Plan optional purchases during sales, Schmitt said. Linens, outdoor gear, camcorders, air conditioners, sports gear, grills and snowblowers all go on sale seasonally.

Only borrow money for a car once. When paid for, keep making car payments to oneself to build savings for the next vehicle purchase.

Look for spending leaks. The individual who regularly buys a pop out of a soda machine at work every day would do better getting that pop at a discount store.

In one class, Schmitt said a participating dad figured he spent $2,000 a year on $20 bills -- the ones he gave his children before they went to a movie or a football game. He decided they all needed to live within budgets.

By having goals taped on the refrigerator door, children see their parents saving and prioritizing their spending which helps them begin to learn a valuable life skill, Schmitt said.

One of the most important things you can do is track your spending, she said.

Keep track on a computer, a calendar or put outgoing payments for the month into separate envelopes, she said. Do what works.

People have different ways of making savings work, she said. Some put every $5 bill they get into a cash box. Some work an extra job a few months of the year.

Everybody can do something that they dont particularly care to do for some time, Schmitt said.

Maybe its dropping the cable television or Internet temporarily to help seed your savings.

Its an inconvenience but it'll help you achieve that goal, Schmitt said. Do whatever it takes to stay motivated and get out of debt.



Rukhsanas father was active in politics in the area and had contested the assembly polls and JMC polls but could not win. I think the people have put faith in our family, said Gafoor.

Ruksana, in her affidavit, has mentioned Rs 1,100 in her personal savings account and she comes from a below middle class family. With a mandate of 5,109 votes, she has not only surprised her family but has also defeated another Independent candidate Nafees Khan, who got 4,020 votes. In the scenario where BJP has won on 64 seats, she has been able to make a mark for herself and this shows that people in the area have expectations from her, said Naeem Ali, one of Rukhsanas supporters, who was celebrating outside Commerce College.

Another young candidate achieved success in these polls. Sunil Kumar Saini, who has won from ward no. 3 on a BJP ticket, is 24 years old and is actively involved in politics since he was 18 years old. Sources said he came in news for a wrong reason when he had thrown garbage on the face of former JMC CEO in 2013 during October.