Play now but retire later
There are ways to have fun while you're still of working age "without blowing through the resources" you'll need for retirement, said Linda Stern at Reuters. First, "don't quit your day job." Giving up income and benefits "will set you back, so plan to keep working if you can." You can try, though, to scale back the amount of time you spend working. See if your employer will let you work part time. If not, "maybe you can at least squeeze an extra week or two of vacation" out of the boss or take some unpaid leave. Instead of saving up all of your adventures for some far-off someday, "think about the special trips you are putting off" and "try to figure out whether they are doable now."
When to collect Social Security
Think hard before you start claiming Social Security benefits, said Christine Dugas in USA Today. If you're nearing retirement age, you can't collect your full benefits until you're at least 66; if you opt to start at 62, you'll get just 74 percent of the benefits you could enjoy. And if you can manage to put off collecting Social Security until you're 70, prepare for a windfall: You can earn more than that full benefit, including deferred credits for each year you put off filing. The process can be tricky if you're married, divorced, or widowed. "Believe it or not, there are 81 different combinations of Social Security benefits for married couples." To "help you figure out the optimal time to take your benefit," try using an online calculator, such as SocialSecurityTiming.com; a private adviser; or a local Social Security office counselor.
The lure of a second mortgage
Beware of the home equity loan, said Farnoosh Torabi at Yahoo. It may appear to be "a relatively cheap way to borrow versus personal loans and credit cards." But whether it really is depends on what you're using the money for. If you're thinking of taking out a second mortgage to pay off a student loan, for example, "it's important to calculate your total interest costs over the life of that new equity loan," even if the interest rate is more attractive. For example, if your student loan balance is $5,000 with a 6.8 percent interest rate, paying it off over three years will cost you $541 in interest. But even at 4 percent, the interest on a $5,000 equity loan will cost you twice as much if you take 10 years to pay it off.
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