It’s Now Or Never

Getting fiscally caught up is imperative

country and enjoy serene evenings cruising the waters and eating fine cuisine. “I find water to be very calming and I would like to have as stress-free a life as possible. That’s what I look forward to in retirement-just enjoying life.”

Unfortunately, most 40-somethings haven’t had the foresight to plan ahead to the same extent as Boyce has. The fact remains that for many people, especially African Americans, retirement planning remains a distant goal: something they hope to get around to but never quite do soon enough.

Just ask Dale Bryant, portfolio manager at the Bryant Group in New York City.

He says that when people in their 40s come to him as new clients, he’s hoping it’s to fine-tune financial goals. “Because the fact is that even a 20-year time span may not be enough for some people contemplating retirement,” says Bryant.

For example, he notes that if someone stashes away $300 a month and has 20 years until retirement, assuming a 12% annual return, at the end of those two decades that investor will have $296,000. “That’s not a lot of money, considering inflation,” says Bryant. He goes on to calculate that, upon the individual’s retirement, if that $296,000 was placed into a bond fund gaining 5% in order to preserve the principal, the money would earn about $14,000 a year in interest-hardly enough on which to live.

To get much higher returns, 40-somethings need to have stock and mutual funds in their investment mix. Of course, one should begin an aggressive investment program once their house is in order. High quality growth funds include Invesco Telecommuni-cations Fund (ISWCX), John Hancock Regional Bank Fund (FRBAX) and Aim Blue Chip Fund (ABCAX). In terms of stock picks, experts identified Dell Computer (Nasdaq: DELL) and Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) as those with maximum growth potential. For conservative investors seeking income and not much risk, they may want to buy utility stocks (average dividend yield: 4.5%) such as Southern Co. (NYSE:SO) and American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP).

Planning early is a necessity because research shows that people will continue to live longer. In the book The Truth About Money (HarperCollins Publishers, $25), statistics show a 45-year-old is expected to live until the age of 79. And experts caution women to be especially vigilant about their finances and retirement planning because they usually live longer than men. However, too many women get off to a late start when planning for their financial future.

Such is the case for Keedah Giannetti of Portland, Oregon. Giannetti works as a home health attendant,
filling in for permanent workers when they’re sick or on vacation. Since the work is sporadic, Giannetti also sells craft items she makes to supplement her annual income of roughly $26,000.
From a financial standpoint, Giannetti’s retirement outlook doesn’t seem particularly rosy. The 45-year-old is what investment planners call the classic “late starter.”

But Giannetti, who is single, has never had it easy. As a youngster, she had to practically run the household with her older

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