The Smart Woman’s Guide to Retirement Planning by Mary Hunt – Personal Finance Book Review

Money expert Mary Hunt returns with a new book, “The Smart Woman’s Guide to Retirement Planning,” to help women prosper financially in the New Year and beyond. While geared toward women, men can also benefit from Hunt’s knowledge of money, honed after he racked up more than $ 100,000 in debt earlier in life; and it took 13 years to erase.

“Have you received a wake-up call for your retirement?” Hunt asks at the beginning of the book. “I can promise you that they intensify with age.”

Hunt places a 2012 survey that found that 92 percent of women of all ages do not feel educated enough to reach their retirement savings goals.

Saving for retirement takes determination and hard work; and Hunt believes that women can be successful. “If we lack confidence, it is because we lack knowledge and desire, certainly not because we lack intelligence and ability,” Hunt says.

Time trumps all factors when saving for retirement. The sooner you start the better. But, Hunt emphasizes, regardless of what stage in life you are in, it must start now. “It’s too late if you don’t start now. No matter where you are or how little you think you have, start now. Today. Start. Saving.” Take small steps to produce long-term results.

Characteristic of Hunt’s teachings:

Retirement savings plan. Hunt promotes a Six Step Retirement Savings Plan, which includes:

Create an emergency fund. Also known as the Contingency Fund. Save money for unexpected life expenses (car repairs, house repairs, etc.) This money should be liquid (easily accessible in two to three days), safe from erosion (build a savings account free of risks) and be able to finance at least six months of living expenses in the event of a job loss or other compromised income event.

Get out of debt. Eliminate all unsecured debt (credit card debt, student loans, personal loans). Hunt says they are like cancer stealing his future. Incorporate Hunt’s Rapid Debt Payment Plan (RDRP) to abolish debt.

Own your home completely. Buy half of the house that your mortgage approved. Make monthly mortgage payments equal to the full amount of approval to own your residence in half the time. Fiercely protect your home equity (the difference between your home’s market value and your mortgage balance). Avoid taking out a home equity loan or line of credit, which resets the clock on a thirty-year mortgage.

Consider hiring a financial planner once debt is eradicated or managed, a respectable amount of savings accumulates, retirement funds are growing, or an inheritance IRA or other cash windfall appears.

Hunt describes three types of financial planners:

  1. Based on commissions. This planner does not charge based on time, but on the sale of investment products. He or she earns commissions for those sales.
  2. Based on rates. This planner works with a fixed rate or hourly charges. Fees are set in advance and the planner is a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). They are required by law to adhere to fiduciary standards, which makes them responsible for putting the best interests of their clients first.
  3. Combo. This planner is a combination of the first two. Clients pay a fixed or hourly rate, and the planner earns commissions when the client purchases financial products based on their recommendations.

Choose a financial planner with at least five years of experience, Hunt suggests. Make sure they act in your best interest and can explain financial concepts at your level. Beware of any planner who claims to be able to beat the market. Ultimately, collaborate with a planner; still, make your own investment decisions. Hunt stresses that, “The primary loyalty of an advisor or planner will be to the hand that feeds it. That is simply human nature.”

Hunt educates in a conversational tone, avoiding jargon, graphics, and mind-numbing data, making reading engaging. Christian, she teaches faith-based money management. Hunt believes that God is the source of all blessings in life, including money. An employer, spouse, investments, trust account, parents, or any other entity are the channels through which money flows, but not the ultimate source. You are making reasonable preparations for retirement without obsession; and trusting God for the result.

While having retirement savings is important, Hunt reminds readers that life is more than money. Health, spirituality, nurturing relationships, staying active, continuous learning, and volunteering are some of the attributes of a balanced existence.

Decade-by-decade financial planning, the five tools needed for a money management system, investing basics (automate all payments to avoid missing monthly contributions (out of sight, out of mind), reverse mortgages, and parents who pay for their children’s college education (not required), there are other building / saving money topics covered in the book.

Anyone who commits to improving their financial fitness in 2014 will reap the treasures of life, beyond the limits of cash, by inheriting the monetary practices of Mary Hunt.

To establish your baseline financial status and / or monitor your progress, request your free credit reports from the big three credit companies: Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, visit: Annual Credit Report.

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