Continuing the long-term strategy of these articles, I plan on picking a theme per issue or a topic of interest.  If there are specific topics you would like covered please send me an e-mail at

The majority of available information is free and can increase your financial literacy.

You may recall the first article was labeled Financial Freedom, now I’ll explain a few more reasons why this is important.

For starters, most people have a long-range goal or target.  I think it was “Blanchand” who stated: “Begin with the end in mind.” So to help answer that, let’s assume – “Retirement is your goal;” perhaps the following will be of help for you.

A – While accumulating assets, do not borrow or withdraw from your retirement accounts. Simple logic, you can’t replace these dollars and often they are gone when you need them most, i.e. in retirement.

I have heard many stories and rationales on why this has to be done, to date none have moved me to agree.

B – Eliminate debt before you retire, being debt-free enhances your ability to enjoy retirement.

C – Learn and discuss your social security claiming options and develop a strategy that is best for you.  There is a great deal of uncertainty and confusion in this area.  Based on your circumstances, it could be 20 -65% of your monthly income during retirement. is one resource you may want to check out.

D – Have a trial run with budgeting and cash flow before you retire.  Knowing your cash flow needs is critical.  How much will you need each month and where will it come from?

E – Do you have your emergency fund?  Is it properly financed?  One to six months of expenses is often an acceptable range.  This is a “when,” not “if” situation.  Accept that emergencies happen, plan for them so the impact is small you to your finances.

F – What’s your living strategy for your retirement years?  Will it stay the same throughout, or will you down size at some point?  What might be the triggering event?

I think you can see that these are just scratching the surface of the “Retirement” goal.  There are many moving parts that can make this very complicated.  I strongly support using the services of a trusted specialist to guide you through your planning process and help keep you on track throughout your retirement.

There are tons of available websites and calculators for you to experiment with.  Trial and error before you have to make these lifetime decisions is strongly advised.  Usually trying two or three can give you a good sense of which you like best.

Retirement can be a serious challenge, but it also can and should be very gratifying.  Spending time now on understanding the variables and issues regarding retirement should help you be more comfortable and confident.

The most frequent challenge is to accumulate adequate resources so that you can live off the money you earn on them.  Certainly, easier said than done.

If you have an employer sponsored plan it makes sense to contribute as much as possible. Certainly, at a minimum you should contribute enough to get the match.  This is found money!  A recent Janus Study reports only 45% of women working between 32-64 participate in these plans and have 50% less in their retirement savings accounts, than their male co-workers.

The great news is that this is not terminal.  You can improve your retirement situation.  Get the help of a Financial Advisor, get organized, focus on your goals and objectives, review your budget, and get started.  Many people get overwhelmed by this process, but I strongly urge you to work through it.  Retirement can be a serious challenge. With help, I believe it can be a success.

Many of us struggle to save for retirement, due to the previously discussed wage gap.  Prospects for women are even more perilous.  On average a woman needs to save $1.25 for every $1 a man invests to build an equivalent nest egg, according to Marketwatch.

In part this is due to the wage gap of .80 cents per dollar difference, so it stands to reason that the lesser paid person needs to save more.  This wage gap varies by state.  According to Nerd Wallet, New York requires a $1.13 per dollar savings while Oklahoma requires $1.37 per dollar to catch up.

Saving for retirement is not a gender thing.  It is an American problem.  Roughly half of us aren’t saving enough to maintain our standard of living in retirement!  Are you?  Have you checked lately? How do you know?

There are a number of good, free calculators and websites to take a look at, here are a few: Nerd Wallet, Fidelity, and Bankrate.  These will provide you with a starting point and unbiased non-sales based information.  You don’t have to go it alone.  Ask for help!

Michael A. Masiello is a Financial Advisor with Masiello Retirement Solutions.  His office in Greece can be reached at 720-0590 or email him at:

Securities and advisory services offered through Cetera Advisors LLC, member FINRA, SIPC. Cetera Advisors LLC is under separate ownership from any other named entity.