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A Plan for All Seasons

20-Something
Emily Uranga, 28, Orlando

Family: Single. Occupation: Commercial real estate marketing coordinator.
Salary: Mid-$40,000s.
Assets/liabilities: 401(k) and medical insurance through work. Biggest expenses are rent, utilities, medical and auto insurance, a $300-a-month car payment and gas for a 40-mile-a-day commute.

Retirement Planning Advice
Larry Colby, senior vice president/ Florida statewide sales and marketing, Northern Trust, Miami
"Retirement is now becoming more each person's own responsibility. Make sure that you are putting the maximum contribution possible into your 401(k) plan. Saving between 10% and 20% of your pretax income at this age is ideal. Make sure you are active in managing your 401(k). It is best to follow a diversified approach, investing across different asset classes, in order to lower your overall risk. Consider consulting a financial planner who can help you develop a budget and a comprehensive savings plan."

More Advice
Build sound credit history by opening a few accounts and then paying them off.
Put three to six months' worth of expenses in a money market or savings account as a rainy-day fund.
Establish a systematic investment plan, depositing money on a regular, fixed basis

30-Something
Don Wirth, 31, Clearwater

Family: Single.
Occupation: Certified registered nurse anesthetist.
Salary: $175,000.
Assets/liabilities: Graduated last year from a 2?year nurse anesthesia residency. Owes money on student loans ($40,000) and debt to parents ($8,000) for expenses acquired during his unpaid residency. Maxes out 403(b) ($15,000/year), has a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA and stocks valued at $30,000 and is building an emergency fund. Expects to have family and car loans paid off by the beginning of the new year. Besides the family and student loans, liabilities include a mortgage ($1,800 a month), auto loan and credit cards.

Retirement Planning Advice
Matthew Bower, senior vice president, U.S. Trust Corp., Sarasota
"Don's situation is great. He has secured a very lucrative professional career with significant income potential, and he has established a very solid retirement program through his 403(b) plan and his two IRAs. Here is what Don should be thinking about:
Continue maximizing retirement plans.
Look into balancing out the retirement assets with non-retirement investments, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, etc.
Build up a rainy-day fund.
Consider making extra principal payments on mortgage."

More Advice
Don't forget to protect assets with appropriate property and casualty and liability insurance.
Pay the student loans off, perhaps over the next three to five years.
Think about setting up a 529 education savings plan for himself (which the law allows). He may very well want to go back to college for further education. Worstcase scenario is he pre-saves for his future children and/or grandchildren, and if he has none then maybe nieces and nephews

40-Something
Roniece Weaver, 45, Windermere

Family: Husband, Curtis, is a physician and CEO of a medical group; three children, including a foster child.
Occupation: Executive director of non-profit Nutrition Practice Group and a registered dietitian.
Salary: Mid-$50,000s for her; husband's undisclosed.
Assets/liabilities: Mutual funds for the entire family. Savings started when children were little. Biggest liabilities are monthly mortgage, college and private school tuition and liability insurance. Combined family income means college is already paid for. Recently took in a 17-year-old foster child. They are seeking ways to cover his college cost. Husband diversifies investments in other projects outside of the mutual funds and stock markets to get a better return on his investment.

Retirement Planning Advice
Ginger Snyder, first vice president / senior investment consultant / member of Snyder Wealth Management at Robert W. Baird & Co., Tampa
"Roniece is certainly on track by exploring options for funding her children's college education. As with any investment -- a family, a home, a college education -- the best results are achieved by carefully constructing a plan and then following that plan consistently over time. Roniece should review her current asset allocation to make sure her portfolio is well-suited to meet all her goals and objectives, including the timing of college expenses for each child. Depending on the age of the foster child, she may want to look into a 529 plan, which would allow federal tax-free distributions, tax-deferred earnings, taxfree rollovers and no tax reporting unless there's a distribution from the plan. Roniece should meet with her financial adviser to design a plan that will clearly describe a range of critical factors that will affect her financial decisions, including investment goals and time horizons, tolerance for risk and the prudence and diversification standards she wishes to maintain. She should also make sure her CPA and estate planning attorney know her financial adviser so that the entire team might work together to help the Weaver family achieve all their goals and objectives. She should meet with her financial adviser at a minimum of one time per year to discuss their progress toward their goals."

More Advice
Consider consolidating investments to assess the need for diversification.
Save for college expenses through tax-deferred accounts.
Consider all options before dipping into retirement savings to pay for college.
Revise will, trust and estate plan to adjust for the new addition to the family.
Husband should avoid investing only in his company.
Be careful how the husband's assets are titled -- in case of a liability suit.
Consider purchasing long-term care policies.

50-Something
Jack McCabe, 52, Deerfield Beach

Family: Mary Grace; Victoria, 10, and two adult children, ages 19 and 21.
Occupation: CEO, McCabe Research & Consulting; CEO, McCabe Acquisitions; partner in other real estate related limited liability companies.
Salary: $100k-plus.
Assets/liabilities: Majority owner and managing partner in businesses. Income streams from other real estate interests. Investments converted to cash since end of 2005. Bracing for "an upcoming recession triggered by the housing industry." Only liability: $425,000 mortgage on a personal residence.

Retirement Planning Advice
Troy Sterba, certified financial planner and consultant, BankUnited, Coral Gables
"This couple needs to maximize retirement funding because they are looking at a shorter horizon to retirement. I also recommend more of a diversified portfolio, understanding that their comfort zone is real estate. I have a number of clients that have money on the sideline in real estate, and I recommend they also include investments in stocks, bonds and life insurance so they are not overly into any particular style of investment. They should not put all of their eggs in one basket. The Dow Jones industrial average just set a new record, and had this couple any money in the stock market, they would have seen some benefits from that too. The diversification allows them to ride the ups and downs of all markets."

More Advice
Get back into investment markets -- at least to some degree.
Consider a life insurance strategy to protect the businesses and to use as an estate planning tool.
Maintain a well-diversified investment portfolio, especially important as retirement nears and income streams become important.
Establish a cash-flow statement and balance sheet to help quantify progress toward goals.