Fit to Retire

by Les Abromovitz

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If Dr. Phil can give dieting tips, a flabby guy like myself should be able to give retirement planning advice that can also help you lose weight.

If your finances are in worse shape than your waistline, you can trim your spending and your figure at the same time. You can burn calories instead of money, so you'll enter retirement in good shape, both physically and financially.

By cutting your spending, you can save more for retirement. If you save and invest $5 per day ($150 per month) for 30 years and earn nine percent annually, you'll have almost $250,000 in thirty years. If the money is in a 401(k) retirement savings plan and your employer matches some or all of your contribution, your nest egg will be even larger in thirty years.

You don't have to give up eating out, but you still can save some money and a pound or two. If you want to try an expensive restaurant, eat lunch there instead of dinner. It's cheaper and you're better off eating a heavy meal earlier in the day.

If you do eat dinner out, skip an appetizer, alcoholic beverage or dessert. At a nicer restaurant, you'll save $5 to $10 per meal, plus the 15 to 20 percent tip on the extras. If you eat out several times per month, you'll save money and cut your calorie intake.

You can combine exercise with saving money by cutting your parking costs. Lots on the perimeter of a city are usually much cheaper than parking garages in a central location. Park at a remote lot and walk from there to work, a concert or sporting event, assuming you don't need an armed escort. Another possibility is to skip the valet and save the tip. Also, try walking to nearby destinations instead of driving, so you can save on gas and depreciation of your car.

You'll work up a sweat by cleaning your attic or garage. Have a garage sale and sell the items you don't need. Another possibility is to donate useable clothing and household items to charity. You're entitled to a tax deduction, based upon the fair market value of the items donated.

If you're handy, do-it-yourself projects can save hundreds of dollars and increase the value of your house. "Sweat equity" is the term used to describe the labor you perform on your house or investment property that raises its value. If you're painting or fixing up the house, you'll spend less time eating and sitting in front of the television.

You can also cut calories and save cash by doing your own housekeeping and gardening. Strenuous gardening burns 400 to 600 calories per hour.

If saving money is harder for you than dieting, bring in more income with a part-time business that will force you to exercise. For example, a Florida woman has a dog-walking business that allows her to exercise and make money. Maybe you can turn a hobby into a money-making business that involves exercise. Offer tennis, golf or swimming lessons if you're good at one of those sports. If you're really fit, teach an aerobics class and get paid to exercise.

A retiree in Bonita Springs, Florida, walks around his golf course community for exercise and collects lost balls. He never has to buy golf balls for himself and sells the rest to a flea market vendor.

Aside from keeping you fit, a part-time business or money-making activity may lead to an earlier retirement. The business or money-making activity will provide extra income in retirement and will keep you active. When you own a small business, you can contribute a percentage of your profits to a SEP-IRA, which is a tax-sheltered retirement account.

By being proactive in your efforts to combine saving and making money with exercise, you'll be fit to retire when you're ready.

Les Abromovitz, an attorney, is the author of a new book, Protecting and Rebuilding Your Retirement. He is also the author of Long-Term Care Insurance Made Simple.

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