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  Are You Saving Enough to Be Prepared?

The Experts

The following experts reviewe our voluneteers' information and made a number of specific recommendations, including a few that have already been followed and improved the finances of some participants. The analysts also offered some general tips for readers who are starting to think about retirement planning.

  • Gregory Robert Anderson, second vice president of TIAA-CREF Trust Co., the nation's largest private pension fund and a certified financial planner.

  • Ron Gebhardstbauer, senior pension fellow for the American Academy of Actuaries.

  • Laurence J. Kotlikoff, an economics professor at Boston University and author of "Generational Accounting: What Determines Savings."

  • Martha Priddy Patterson, director of employee benefits policy and analysis for KPMG LLP's Compensation and Benefits practice and the author of "The Working Woman's Guide to Retirement Planning: Saving and Investing Now for a Secure Future."

  • By Martha M. Hamilton
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Sunday, September 26, 1999; Page H1

    One moment, the summer of your work life appears endless and so do your opportunities.

    The next, you start to notice small signs that it is winding down-and faster than you thought possible.

    Colleagues you once lunched with begin retiring. But, hey, they're older than you.

    You mention a famous account or case that you worked on and draw blank stares.

    You hear a co-worker described as "too old" for a job, and he's 15 years younger than you are!

    And even more ominously, you begin to wonder about whether you have enough money in your pension, Social Security, 401(k), IRA and savings.

    Suddenly it occurs to you there are worse possibilities out there than having your musical tastes and fashion sense consigned to the junk heap of fogydom.

    That's when most of us suddenly begin to think about financial planning for retirement.

    It's going to be a hot topic. Right now about 12.7 percent of the population, about one of every eight Americans, is retirement age-65 or older. In 2030, when two decades' worth of baby boomers have crossed that threshold, the percentage will be about 20 percent, or one out of five.

    This wave of retirees will be different from the retirees that preceded them. They will live longer. They may work longer. They are less likely to have an employer-funded pension benefit built up through a lifetime of working for the same company. They will become eligible for Social Security benefits at a time when the fund may run out of money.

    Many workers in their 40s and 50s have accumulated some retirement savings-almost by accident. When Congress authorized tax-advantaged individual retirement accounts, they set aside some money because it seemed silly not to. When their employers started 401(k) plans and offered to match savings, they figured, "Why not?"

    As Lynn Halverson, 47, of Sterling, said about her family's experience: "We were just kind of saving, saving, saving without really thinking about specific goals and objectives."

    We asked Washington area workers who are in their late 40s or early 50s to share with us details of their financial planning for retirement. Then we asked four experts who make their living thinking about retirement income and related issues to take a look and share some advice.

    Hundreds of readers responded to our request for volunteers. Seven filled out a lengthy questionnaire and talked to us further about their households' finances.

    Single Father Dennis Dean Kirk
    Federal Worker Alicia O. McPhie
    Letitia Gomez and Sabrina Sojourner
    Lynn Halverson and Douglas Lee
    Kishan and Padma Baheti
    Musician Patricia Ann Smith
    John and Jill Charlton

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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