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Making Ends Meet Shouldn't Be a Stretch

Couple had to retire early due to illness. But frugal habits put them in good stead.


Post-polio syndrome is not life-threatening, though it leaves many victims in wheelchairs and on ventilators. The Hanleys should plan to live long lives, Leonard said.

Their 401(k) account, invested mostly in U.S. large-cap equity and money market mutual funds, should be moved into an IRA rollover account at a discount brokerage such as Fidelity or Vanguard, the planner said, to give them more investment options. He recommended that it be broadly diversified among several investment sectors, including U.S. and foreign stocks and fixed-income vehicles.

"I think your biggest risk going forward, as your muscles continue to deteriorate, is that you're probably going to need assisted living," Leonard said, especially as it becomes increasingly difficult for them to help each other.

The couple's daughters are willing to provide some support--one already suggested that her parents move closer to her so she could help care for them--but the Hanleys prefer to remain independent as long as they can.

Less difficult, it seems, will be funding their retirement. Financially, at least, the worst may be behind them.

If they don't have to tap their nest egg for several years, they can reasonably expect it to more than double in less than 10 years. Then, if they need to tap it to improve their cash flow, they initially can withdraw about 6.5% annually and increase their withdrawals each year for inflation.

"If the money is invested as I have suggested, you should be able to take a steady income from the investment without spending it down," Leonard said.

That puts them in good shape.

Kristine seemed relieved.

"I feel a lot better," she said. "We were beginning to wonder if we had a future."


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This Week's Make-Over

Subjects: Fred Hanley, 53, and Kristine Hanley, 51

Income: About $43,770

Goal: Financial security despite having to retire sooner than planned.

Current Portfolio

Retirement account: $105,000 in a 401(k) account, invested mostly in U.S. large-cap stock and money market mutual funds

Savings account: About $3,000 in a bank savings account

Debt: $10,000 auto loan


n Move 401(k) into an IRA rollover account at a discount brokerage and broadly diversify the funds.

n Continue to live frugally and let retirement account grow.

n In 10 years, can withdraw about 6.5% or more annually from savings to supplement income.

n Don't be afraid to ask children for help.

About the Planner

Scott Leonard is a fee-only certified financial planner and registered investment advisor. His firm, Leonard Wealth Management, is in El Segundo.

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