Retirees keep a careful watch on the economy - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Retirees keep a careful watch on the economy

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

September 23, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - As government and big financial institutions navigate tough economic times, life is particularly uncertain for people on the verge of retirement. The value of your retirement plan has likely fallen and cashing in now could mean taking a loss. Not surprisingly, some workers are putting it off.  

It's a day most of us look forward to from the day we start work-- retirement. A time to travel, spend time with family and just rest. But if you don't plan carefully, it may not happen as soon as you've hoped.  

The clock is running down on Bert Wagnon's working days.   "Being 60 years old, I figure I've got 10 good years of health left, hopefully longer," he says.

And he's been planning for that day for a long time. "I started preparation for retirement about 20 years ago."

Of course, part of that preparation was saving money in diversified plans. But the biggest part was getting rid of debt. "Took out a 15 year mortgage on my house and it's paid off. I do not have any liens or car payments or credit card debt, and that's the way I planned it, because if you go into retirement and you've got heavy debt, you've got some real problems."

Kind of like the problems happening on Wall Street. Problems the government is trying to fix.  

"He's [Congressman Sanford Bishop] trying to look out for the interests of Wall Street, but also looking out for Main Street. Main Street being the American taxpayer and we're going to make sure there are provisions in this bill that will protect people's retirements,"  said Kenneth Cutts, district Representative for Congressman Sanford Bishop.

But until that bill is signed, those retirements may continue to dwindle.   "We're very cognizant of that, but also we want to make sure the government doesn't enter into a deal that we'll come to regret later," Cutts says.

But Wagnon won't have to push his retirement to a later date. Although he has lost about 15% of an IRA and a 403(b) account, planning ahead worked in his favor. With 45 days to go, he can happily reflect on his career, and look ahead to his future.   "I look forward to a happy and long retirement."    

For those of us not ready to retire, experts say, leave the money you have in the stock market alone. Don't pull out your 401ks or IRAs. When the stocks are low, you are actually buying more. Those closer to retirement, may want to consult a financial advisor.  

People who have been planning on retirement may have to continue working to recoup their losses.

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