It’s time to talk about something you’re really going to need in your golden years – MONEY. Charles Farrell, an investment advisor, says saving for retirement is a lot different now than it was before. It used to be that people died within a few years of retirement, and the rest squeaked by on pensions and social security. These days, most of us will have to rely on our own savings during our golden years. With life expectancies rising, Farrell says we need to figure out how to live off our investments for 20 to 30 years. Luckily, he has a few tips for us.

  • Figure out your net worth. You wouldn’t start a diet without knowing your weight, right? It’s the same idea. Simply subtract what you OWE from what you OWN. Stephen Brobeck, the executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, says if you don’t do this to gain perspective, it’s way too easy to get swallowed up by debt. Too many people think they can afford a loan if they can make the minimum monthly payment. That’s not true. Your goal should be working toward having a positive net worth, and savings on top of it. So do the math.
  • Don’t buy into the notion of “good” debt. You may have heard that home loans and school loans are good debt – because owning property and being educated tend to grow your wealth. Brobeck says don’t fall for this. Today, millions of families could lose their homes because dodgy brokers convinced them to take out “good” debt on ludicrous terms. The bottom line is that your debt needs to be kept in proportion to your income.
  • To help grow your nest egg, do your own taxes! In an experiment, government auditors posed as ordinary taxpayers at 19 tax-preparation companies. Every time, the accountants messed up. According to Bryan Camp, a professor of Tax Law at Texas Tech, software like TurboTax makes it easy to do your own taxes, and saves you an average of $200 each year. When you do your own taxes, you get real insight into your saving and spending habits, so you can figure out what you need to cut. Camp says consider it your annual fiscal physical.