ING Direct is rolling out a new advertising campaign and Web site focused on determining how much money you need to retire.
ING Your Number (http://www.ingyournumber.com) is a financial calculator for figuring out "your number" — meaning, the amount of money you need to live at a level you'd like in retirement.
On the Web site, you're given a Flash presentation where you insert six fundamentals for determining your number:
- Current Age
- Marriage Status
- Household Income
- Expected Retirement Age
- Desired Income at Retirement
- Age until you'll need the income
After your number is determined, ING points you to financial professionals whether you have one or you don't.
At first use, it seems helpful — you've got to know where you're going before you can get there. But at the same time, how are you supposed to know how much you'll need to live on in retirement? (It may not be the 80% often quoted.)
And, more importantly, how can I figure out when I'm going to die? (Death clocks not withstanding)
Now that ING owns ShareBuilder, it makes sense for them to be making a bigger deal out of investing for the future. We'll see how long the "your number" campaign plays out.
In a post a little while ago, I questioned the traditional wisdom that says you should max out on your 401(k) and fully fund a Roth IRA every year.
Here's an update of where I am with that: I did some research, and I realized that I was only contributing 4% to my 401(k), which meant I wasn't even taking full advantage of my employer's match. I brought that up to 6% to get the full match.
Until the last year or so, I probably really needed that extra money in my paycheck, so I don't think I've let too much money slip away by not taking full advantage of the match.
I also opened a Roth IRA, even though I feel my retirement may be well-set without it.
So why did I open it, then? Because maybe I will use it in my retirement, and after more research, I realized I could pull out my contributions at any time if I need it before I turn 59.5. Also, if I ever have children, the contributions and interest earned can be used for their college expense.
It seems like this could work out better than a 529 plan.
I'm looking at the Roth like a miscellaneous fund right now, and I think it's a good idea I start funding it now to put the power of compounding to work earlier.
Tom Valenti is a marketer and project manager who currently works for a financial institution in New Jersey. For more info, visit him at http://tomvalenti.com.