It doesn’t matter how old you are someday you will hopefully retire. According to Pew Research Center, there are 75 million baby boomers in the United States and retirement is coming quick or may already be here. So if you are a boomer or just thinking about retirement and feeling like you are not prepared there is still time to get on the right track. Here is a retirement checklist to help get you started:

Know how much you need to live

The first step in planning for retirement is to know how much money you will need to live. Make a list of all of your expenses and your sources of income. If your costs outweigh your guaranteed income you may need to reevaluate your costs.

Rethink your retirement savings plan

Unless you have a pension you will not have a set amount of money to live on for your retirement. If you have a 401k or other employer-sponsored retirement plan you will need to plan to make that money last. It may be best to meet with a financial planner to determine ways to maximize your income stream. A financial planner may also help you consolidate your retirement accounts.

Understand your social security benefits

Depending on the age at which you start social security withdrawals you may have less money than you thought. Social security withdrawals before the age of 70 could result in 20-30% less in benefits. Deciding what age you will retire and when you will draw on your social security benefits is an important decision.

Plan for inflation

Like it or not the cost of living goes up. The cost of health care also continues to rise and without proper planning for inflation in living costs and health care your retirement income could run out sooner than you planned. A good start for planning is to know that over the past one hundred years the average inflation rate has been 3.4%.

Have a will

It is important to establish a will and/or living will. This will help you and your family make important decisions regarding health care, long term care and estate issues.

Tackling retirement planning ahead of time will help you begin the next chapter of your life worry free and allow you to plan for the fun times ahead.

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A vegetable garden is the perfect addition to your landscape adding color and texture to your yard.  It is wonderful to grow and harvest your own fresh vegetables. If you are considering adding a garden to your landscape or you already have one, here are some tips you may find helpful.

Location:

Choosing the correct location for a vegetable garden is key.  You want to ensure the optimal growing conditions while complimenting your yard at the same time.  Stay away from the family’s high traffic areas, avoid your children’s favorite places to play, and be aware of the path the dog takes when running through the yard.  Raised beds and container gardens can compliment many areas of the yard as well as the deck and patio.

Sunlight:

Find an area in your yard that gets the maximum amount of direct sunlight.  Eight hours of sunlight per day is optimal, however many plants will still thrive with less.  Gardens that  encounter partial shade during the day can be planted according to the need of each plant.  Just keep in mind, the more sunlight the better.

Planting:

When choosing what to plant in your garden, you will need to take into consideration the length of the growing season, the amount of space you have to work with, and the potential yield of each plant.  Purchasing small, well established plants is a great way to get started, however sowing  seeds directly in the garden soil is preferred for some vegetables such as carrots, and radishes.  Be sure to leave the appropriate amount of space between plants to allow them to grow to their full potential.  Be sure to provide the proper support for plants that grow vertical such as beans, peas and cucumbers, and stakes for your tomatoes.  The professionals at your local garden center can help guide you to the plants that will best meet your needs.

Feed and Water:

As with every living thing, your garden plants will need food and water to grow.  Be sure the garden soil is kept loose at the base of the plants so the water will be absorbed.  It is most beneficial to your plants to water in the early morning or later in the evening.  There is a wide range of plant food available, organic fertilizer is always a great option.  Be sure to read labels carefully, and always use as directed.

Maintenance:

To ensure your garden grows to its full potential you will need to keep the weeds under control.  Pull out the weeds and loosen the soil with a hand scratcher or cultivator to inhibit re-growth.  Grass clippings, straw, and other organic matter can be placed around the plants to keep the soil cool and moist and keep weeds from growing.  There is also a variety of garden cloth and plastic sheeting for weed control available at your local garden center.

A vegetable garden is a wonderful addition to any yard.  There is nothing better than being able to pick your own fresh produce. The more time you have to put into your garden the better your harvest will be.

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