It’s time to figure out your retirement?

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Published: May 15,2011

Tags: MBJ Columns, Nancy Anderson

Do you know how much is in your 401(k)? What about your spouse’s balance? What is your contribution rate? How much is your spouse contributing? Clueless on all counts?

You’re not alone. Fidelity surveyed 401(k) participants and found that half didn’t know what was in their very own retirement account. Only 37percent of husbands know what’s in their wives’ accounts, and 21 percent of wives know what’s in their husbands’ accounts. C’mon ladies!

I know you’re busy. You’re both working. The kids have soccer games on the weekend. Schoolwork and dinner suck up your evenings. But this is important! Your biggest asset is probably your retirement account. Can’t you at least give this asset an hour of your attention one time a year?

Schedule a meeting with your spouse. Before you meet, each should do some homework. Print out the latest statement on your 401(k). Find out your percentage contribution rate from the Personnel Department. Ask what the employer match is.

Sit down and play show-and-tell with your plans. One person could set up a spreadsheet listing all the family assets and liabilities. Fill in the blank with your plan numbers. Stare at the total a LONG time, and ask the very serious question, “Is this enough?”

If you need help calculating a savings rate, you can turn to an online retirement calculator. You can also schedule an appointment with a fee-only financial advisor. This person can help with a savings plan and can make recommendations on fund choices within each retirement plan. It’s money well-spent.

And while you’re at it, go online to socialsecurity.gov and get a benefits calculation for each partner. You’ll get hard numbers and hard dates to use as you plan for the total picture.

School’s almost out. Maybe things will slow down. Make a date with your spouse. Light a few candles. Pop a cork. It’s show-and-tell time!

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