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Durham, NC - Surrounded by credit card receipts and bank statements, Irene Lofstrom meticulously entered her income, expenses and savings into a money management program on her computer.
She and her husband had been saving since they started work at Duke 32 years ago, but one question kept nagging at her: Did they have enough money to retire comfortably?
For help, Lofstrom, administrative coordinator in the Department of Neurobiology, used a lesser-known resource at Duke. She attended free retirement counseling provided by Fidelity, one of four investment companies that manage Duke's employee retirement saving accounts.
All employees at Duke are eligible for one-on-one consultations with Fidelity, TIAA-CREF, VALIC and Vanguard, even if they don't participate in a retirement plan. Advisors work with employees to create an investment strategy, offer suggestions on investments and monitor investment choices. Sessions are provided by phone, on campus or at the investment company.
"Saving regularly for retirement is important, but so is regularly checking to see if you are on target or need to adjust your strategy," said Sylvester Hackney, associate director of Duke Benefits, who recommends making consultations an annual event.
Last October, Lofstrom met with a Fidelity representative in the company's offices at University Tower in Durham. She wanted reassurance that volatility of the markets would not derail her retirement plans.
"I don't know if I'm being conservative or aggressive enough for my age," said Lofstrom, 58.
Lofstrom learned that since most of her investment funds are in age-bracketed funds, she is on target. Age-bracketed funds automatically readjust the ratio of stocks and bonds based on a client's expected retirement date so that the portfolio becomes progressively more conservative as retirement approaches.
The Fidelity representative also calculated whether the combination of Social Security, Duke retirement plan and family assets would be enough to replace 75 to 85 percent of her family's current income after retirement. She and the representative considered scenarios based on how long she and her husband will work and how much money they might need each year in retirement.
"As it turns out, we can't retire at 62 like we wanted to," Lofstrom said. "We are just now recovering from the economic fallout, and that will delay retirement a bit. But at least now I know where we stand, and I don't have to waste time worrying about it."
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