Maximizing Your Social Security

In this series, we are covering the importance of a personal financial plan. Studies have shown it is the primary way for people to feel confident about their money and retirement, especially when it comes to Social Security.

With advances in online technology, a good financial plan can help you maximize your Social Security benefits and stress test the plan to address any concerns of Social Security solvency and the economy.

You can go to to get a free online financial plan with the Social Security optimizer until the end of this month.

A good financial plan will answer the three most important financial questions:

1) Where are you now? Having a spending plan or budget is important to track how much money you are bringing in and how much is going out. Surprisingly, more than 60 percent of Americans don’t do this! If you don’t know your inflow and outflow, you can’t properly spend, save, invest and reduce debt. In addition to setting up a budget, your plan will calculate your assets, liabilities and net worth. Answering this question will help you understand where you currently are financially, your spending habits and what you need to do to answer the second question.

2) Where do you want to go? One of the primary purposes of your financial plan is to meet your financial goals, short-term and long-term. What do you want your lifestyle to be in the future? Your financial plan will help you prioritize your goals into needs, wants and wishes. It will reflect your true lifestyle goals and values you want to live by.

3) How will you get there? Now that you know where you are financially and where you want to go, a good financial plan will help you get there. Just like a road map, you want to find the optimal and best way to get to point B and achieve your goals. A good financial plan will calculate the total amount your goals will cost and how many resources you need to reach those goals. This includes a proper investment portfolio, the right amount of savings every year and not overspending.

Social Security benefits can play a large role in the success of your financial plan and how you can meet your financial goals. In the past, analyzing and illustrating potential options to maximize potential benefits have been complex and difficult.

Online financial plans now can help you easily compare Social Security filing strategies and the plan results that follow. From our previous series on Social Security, we learned that some of the strategies you can use are taking benefits at full retirement age (FRA) at your retirement, as soon as possible, at age 70, file and suspending, maximizing spousal benefits and survivor benefits, and more (visit for more information).

Since there are many options, a good financial plan will help you maximize your benefits for your plan. By calculating your Social Security strategy results, the total lifetime benefit, break-even points and the resulting probability of success, you can choose the optimal time to take Social Security, potentially earning tens of thousands more. (Go to to compare your different strategies.)

Next week we will cover how to calculate health care costs and making sure you are taking the right amount of risk in your financial plan!