Financial planning and a view from the 'cliff'

Monday - 12/17/2012, 10:41pm EST

For Your Benefit

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December 17, 2012 -- This week on For Your Benefit, Joseph Sullender, certified financial planner and first vice president of investments for the Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, joins hosts Bob Leins and Tammy Flanagan to talk about how to live on your retirement budget.

"The first step for having readiness for retirement is having a feel for what you spend now," Sullender says. He says the simplest way to figure that out is to add up your household's take-home pay and then make the necessary adjustments to that amount, depending on whether you carry a credit card balance form month to month and live beyond your means or are actually able to save some of the money from your paychecks, which means you are living frugally.

"Just take what their take-home pay is and subtract what they're saving," Sullender says.

Sullender says that fears concerning the "fiscal cliff" are probably overstated, although he cautions that tax rates for all Americans will almost certainly not be any lower than they are now in the years to come.

"When you see the deficit and debts, and you see our tax rates historically for our country... the writing is kind of on the wall," Sullender says.

Concerning tax rates, Sullender adds: "I'll say this — I don't think they decline dramatically over the next 30-40 years."

Despite what he calls "the pessimism in our country and the media," Sullender says that more than three quarters of his clients "find out good news" concerning their financial readiness for retirement.

Sullender can be reached at joseph.sullender@wellsfargoadvisors.com.