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Will your money last as long as you do?

Financial Focus

We all hope for long, healthy lives. But there's a serious "side effect" of longevity – the possibility of outliving our money. How can you help prevent this?

It's useful to know the seriousness of the threat. Consider this: About 41% of all U.S. homes in which the head of the household is between 35 and 64 are projected to run short of money in retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

While this statistic indicates a cause for concern, it certainly doesn't mean that you are necessarily headed for trouble – because there's a lot you can do to help build and manage enough resources to last a lifetime. Here are a few suggestions:

• Consider your estimated longevity. On average, a 65-year-old man can expect to live another 17 years, while a 65-year-old woman can anticipate about 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Of course, you'll want to take into account your health and family history of longevity to arrive at a reasonable estimate. You can then use this figure to help determine how much money you'll eventually need. To play it safe, you might even want to try to build an income stream that can last beyond your estimated lifespan, possibly up to age 90.

• Don't overlook health care costs. When budgeting for retirement, allow enough for your health care expenses, which can be considerable. Even with Medicare, you can expect to spend anywhere from $4,500 to $6,500 per year, per person, for traditional medical costs. Also, you may want to prepare for two to three years of long-term care expenses, which currently range from about $50,000 per year for home health care to over $100,000 per year for a private room in a nursing home.

• Keep building assets for retirement. While you're working, constantly try to put away as much money as possible for your retirement years. Each year your salary goes up, increase your contributions to your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. You may also want to contribute to an IRA, depending on your goals. And within your retirement savings, make sure you devote a reasonable percentage of your investment dollars to growth-oriented vehicles that align with your goals and risk tolerance.

• Seek out sources of guaranteed income. As a retiree, you will receive Social Security benefits – and the longer you wait before claiming them, the bigger your monthly checks will be. But you might also consider investments that can provide a source of income you can't outlive, such as annuities.

• Revisit your strategy before you retire. As you near retirement, you may want to review your investment strategy, possibly adjusting your risk level so that your portfolio would be somewhat less susceptible to market volatility. This is also a good time to review your spending needs in retirement.

• Maintain a reasonable withdrawal rate. Once you are retired, you'll likely need to start withdrawing from your 401(k), IRA and other investment accounts. To avoid taking out too much money too early in your retirement, you'll need to set a reasonable, sustainable withdrawal rate based on your assets, age and retirement lifestyle. A financial advisor can help you determine an appropriate rate.

It will take dedication and determination to help ensure your money doesn't run out during your lifetime. But you'd probably agree that it's well worth the effort.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Edward Jones, Member SIPC