Achieve financial wellness


Published: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 2:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 2:22 p.m.

January is Financial Wellness Month — a great time to think about your own financial future.

It also happens to be at this time that many people make resolutions for the new year, so why not combine the two and make your own financial wellness a resolution for 2013?

Here are our suggested resolutions for your financial wellness.

Start your financial plan with your Social Security statement: The online statement is simple, easy to use, and provides estimates you should consider in planning for your retirement. It provides estimates for disability and survivors benefits, making the statement an important financial planning tool.

Your statement allows you to review and ensure that your earnings are accurately posted to your Social Security record. This feature is important because Social Security benefits are based on average earnings over your lifetime.

If the information is incorrect or you have earnings missing from your record, you may not receive all of the benefits to which you are entitled in the future, so visit www.socialsecurity.gov/mystatement.

Work the numbers: Once you get your online statement, you can use the other free resources provided by Social Security. Use our Retirement Estimator, where you can get a personalized, instant estimate of your future retirement benefits using different retirement ages and scenarios. Visit the Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

Once you are in the know, choose to save: The earlier you begin your financial planning, the better off you will be. Social Security replaces about 40 percent of the average worker's pre-retirement earnings. Most financial advisors say that you will need 70 percent or more of pre-retirement earnings to live comfortably.

You also will need other savings, investments, pensions or retirement accounts to make sure you have enough money to live comfortably when you retire. Visit the Ballpark Estimator at www.choosetosave.org/ballpark for tips to help you save.

Do some light reading: Learn more about Social Security, the benefit programs, and what they mean to you and your family by browsing through the online library of publications.

In particular, the publication titled "When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits" provides helpful information regarding the things you should consider when making a decision on when to collect retirement benefits.

Many of our publications also are available in audio format and other formats. Our library at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs is always open. Help someone you love. Sometimes we get the most satisfaction out of helping someone else.

If you have a grandparent, parent, relative, or friend who could benefit from Social Security, share the website and the features of the online services with them.

You can even help a loved one apply for Social Security benefits in as little as 15 minutes — or for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs.

Whether you forward a publication or sit down to help someone apply for Social Security, the place to go is www.socialsecurity.gov.

There are a number of ways you can celebrate Financial Wellness Month, so start the new year off by looking out for your own financial wellness at www.socialsecurity.gov.

Kay Louder is the district manager of the Social Security office in Gainesville.

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