Sharp: It’s best to have a plan for retirement

Multimedia Reporter
06/18/2020 11:30 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
There are numerous resources available that can help one learn about what they need to do to save for retirement. STACIE BOSTON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation homebuyer trainer and counselor Susan Sharp said when looking to start saving for retirement it’s best to have a plan of what income one would like to live on and what they plan to spend their retirement doing. STACIE BOSTON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – Retirement could be right around the corner for some or decades in the future for others, either way it is never too late to start saving. With early retirement age currently at 62 and full retirement age between 66 and 67, according to, having a plan to save for one’s “golden years” is a step in the right direction.

When it comes to retiring, Cherokee Nation homebuyer trainer and counselor Susan Sharp said the questions people should ask themselves is “when do you want to retire and what do you want to do?”

“Are you going to travel, are you going to invest in an RV? Hopefully if you invest in an RV, you already got it paid off before you retire. So you have to have money for traveling around doing everything you want to do,” she said. “The earlier you start (saving) in age the better.”

If employers offer 401(K) matching programs, like CN does, Sharp suggested taking advantage of those opportunities.

“It comes off the gross before you see it, and it’s one of those pretax dollars that you don’t even pay attention to,” she said. “It’s a little hard at first, but if they’ve never saved before, pick a small number and start with it.”

Sharp said a good way to determine how much is needed to save to live off during retirement is the “4% rule.”

“Your desired annual income retirement divided by 4% and that will tell you how much you need to save for that year,” she said.

Sharp suggested other ways to invest include Roth IRAs (individual retirement accounts).

“Roth IRAs, you can explore at any time because your money grows tax free and you’re not taxed when you take it out in retirement,” she said.

With both 401(K) savings and Roth IRAs (depending on what is borrowed against), Sharp said there can be penalties if taken from early.

“Now here’s the kicker, if you take it out before retirement even on your 401(K) you are taxed 10%. You’re taxed when you take it out and you’re taxed at tax time,” she said. “It’s kind of like a double whammy.”

If one wants to retire early, Sharp said to make sure they have saved accordingly and have a plan.

“It’s possible, but Social Security, they won’t receive their full retirement benefit. But if they have money saved up or invested, I would not take it out until you do hit the retirement age. Let your money grow,” she said. “I know everybody’s in a hurry to retire but then you get bored so then what are you going to do? You want to have something that you want to do and enjoy so you don’t get bored.”

Goals of being debt free are also something Sharp said those looking to retire should achieve.

“The ideal is to be completely debt free before you retire and have everything all taking care of, and then you can just live off the investments from the 401(K) so you’re not having to dip into savings or emergency funds,” she said.

At the end of the day, Sharp said people should be “prepared as possible” for retirement.

“Save money, save money, save money,” she said. “Have a plan of what you want to do and set yourself monthly goals to achieve those plans.”

For information retirement saving, email

Saving For Your Future – a retirement calculator – information on retirement – information on retirement age – information on Roth IRAs
About the Author • 918-453-5269


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