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  Planning for retirement
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The details:

Create your retirement roadmap

Hatching your nest egg

Retirement need

Tax-advantaged savings plans to the rescue

Boosting your retirement income
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  Setting priorities
  Making a budget
  Basics of banking
  Basics of investing
  Investing in stocks
  Investing in bonds
  Buying a home
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  Controlling debt
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  Saving for college
  Kids and money
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  Asset allocation
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|> About Money 101

investing 101

  Boosting your retirement income
These four strategies can enhance your retirement by helping you squeeze more money out of your assets.

Okay, so what if, despite your diligent saving and savvy investing, you don't accumulate a million-dollar retirement nest egg? Well, that's no reason to start looking for tall buildings to leap from. Even if you fall short of your savings goals, there are several ways to squeeze more money out of the assets you did manage to amass. Here are four techniques we can all consider:

• Make tax-wise withdrawals: You can make your retirement stash last much longer by pulling out your money in a tax-efficient way. Generally, that means taking money from taxable accounts first so that savings in tax-advantaged plans like 401(k)s and IRAs can continue to compound without the drag of taxes. Let's assume that a 62-year-old retiree who has $300,000 in IRAs and $300,000 in taxable accounts earning 9 percent annually wants to pull an inflation-adjusted $35,000 a year from that nest egg. If the retiree depletes the tax-deferred account first, the money runs out after 19 years. If the retiree takes as much as possible from taxable accounts first, the money lasts 24 years. But if the retiree converts the IRA to a tax-free Roth IRA and then taps the Roth only after selling the taxable accounts, then the $600,000 stash lasts 27 years.

One caution: the IRS has some tricky minimum-distribution rules that apply to retirement savings accounts. You'll need to check these out -- or consult a financial planner or tax adviser -- to plot the best strategy.

• Take a job in retirement: Many people are launching second careers or working part time in retirement because it helps them stay mentally fit. It can also keep your portfolio in better shape. Let's say that by working part time you can reduce the withdrawals from an IRA account by $15,000 a year for 10 years. By effectively letting that 15 grand each year grow free of taxes rather than yanking it out, after 10 years you would have almost $235,000 in your account that you wouldn't have had, assuming you earned a reasonable 8 percent annual return. Since bringing in some income during retirement alleviates the pressure on your retirement savings accounts, taking even a part time job in retirement can substantially reduce the savings burden during your working years.

• Get money from home: With the possible exception of a 401(k), a house is the biggest asset most of us own. And you can transform the equity in your home into income without selling it by taking out a reverse mortgage. The amount you can borrow depends, among other things, on your age, interest rates and the value of your home. The older you are, the more you can borrow. Under the FHA Home Equity Conversion Mortgage plan, for example, the maximum loan for a 62-year-old was recently about $96,000, which could be taken in a lump sum, a line of credit or in monthly payments of just under $600 for life. For a 75-year-old, the maximum was recently $125,000 or so in a lump sum or line of credit or roughly $870 in lifetime monthly payments. In a typical deal, your heirs sell the house and repay the loan after you die.

The fees on reverse mortgages can be steep; and you should know that once the mortgage is repaid, there may be little or nothing left for heirs. You can learn more about the benefits -- and pitfalls -- of this option by checking out the National Center for Home Equity Conversion site.

• Consider relocating: The option of moving to an area where living costs are lower certainly isn't for everyone. Indeed, a 2000 survey found that 89 percent of older home owners preferred staying in their present homes. But others have different attitudes toward relocating. For example, 45 percent of those who responded to a June, 1998 survey by Business Week and America Online said they would consider moving to another area of the country. If you're willing to consider this option, you may be able to stretch your retirement income dollars by 15 percent or more. A homeowner in Boston, for example, with an annual income of $60,000 would need only about $40,000 or so to achieve a comparable standard of living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

To compare living costs in more than 700 U.S. cities, go to the salary calculator at Homebuyer's Fair. Naturally, you'll also have to factor in some of the inconveniences of relocating, such as leaving friends and family behind. Then again, a move late in life can be an adventure in itself -- and the savings you enjoy from relocating could be big enough to let you visit your relatives, that is, when you feel like seeing them.

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