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Lunch gives women tips on finances

POSTED: November 10, 2008 5:00 a.m.
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Karen Johnson

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Fledgling organization WomenSource drew a crowd of more than 100 to its monthly brown bag luncheon with advice on how to manage money in a bad economy.

Karen Johnson, regional vice president with Jackson National Life Insurance Co., addressed the diverse crowd of women about retirement and money management.

"The attendance exceeded our expectations," said LeTrell Simpson, spokeswoman for WomenSource. "It was a very timely topic, and the speaker did an excellent job."

This was WomenSource’s second brown bag luncheon, and Lydia Sartain said she believes attendance was so much higher than the first because of how important financial management is to people right now.

"We’re really excited about how people are embracing WomenSource," Simpson said.

Johnson said retirement is a key piece in good money management.

"Americans today are retiring earlier and living longer and that gap continues to grow. In fact, the average individual today is expected to live 19 years or more retired," Johnson said.

Johnson identified several key challenges: longevity, the decline of the traditional pension, Social Security, taxes, inflation and health care, which she called "the perfect retirement storm."

Johnson said many people need to realize that Social Security is no longer a practical source of income to rely on during retirement.

"This program is projected to be paying out more than it is taking as early as 2018," she said of America’s Social Security coffers. "By 2042, the trust fund is said to be exhausted."

Johnson said it is also important to keep inflation, "the invisible enemy," in mind.

"It’s intangible. You don’t see it," Johnson said. "If you’re living on $50,000 per year today, just assuming a 3 percent inflation rate, you will need nearly double that amount, a little over $100,000, in just 25 years to maintain that same lifestyle in retirement."

Though Johnson said there is no easy answer for how to maintain your money in the bad economy, she recommended having a plan and sticking to it.

She said diversification, asset allocation and discipline are the main things to keep in mind.

"A well-executed plan can trump a single moment of brilliance every time," Johnson said. "What does that mean? Not being reactional."

She said when looking at the stock market it’s important to realize that losses are not final until stocks are sold.

In a volatile stock market like today’s, losses can be recovered within just a few months or years, and she said buying stock at the bottom of the market also can be a prudent decision.

"Paper losses do not become permanent unless you lock them in with a decision to sell. Short-term reactionary selling is the problem we see," Johnson said.



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