Make sure you look good …

Claire Damgaard, of Dubuque, is a financial services professional with New York Life. She also is writing articles for HER magazine. PHOTO CREDIT: JESSICA REILLY

The other day, I was walking through the store, and there was a lady trying on a few dresses to find the perfect outfit for a wedding. She had a group of friends for support and input. With so many colors, cuts, styles, trends she wanted input to make sure she was making a good choice.

I couldn’t help but think about the irony of the situation. As someone in the financial industry, I talk to countless people who indicate they have no one to ask for advice to figure out “their number” for retirement, or how to get to those goal.

If your employer offers a retirement plan, it’s not atypical to have a piece of paper handed to you during orientation where you have five minutes to make a decision without someone to explain the different options and help you choose the option that best suits your needs.

Similar to trying on a wedding dress, you know there is dress option A, B, C D and E all sitting in a box. But without the help of an assistant, your only choice is to grab one and hope it looks good. If you had to buy a dress off the rack or had a designer there to help you choose and tell you what fits you well and what might be better for someone else, what would you choose?

Unfortunately, money appears to be one of the most taboo topics when talking to friends and family. Many would rather forgo the “designer,” or don’t know how to reach one or is too embarrassed to ask.

So, readers: I challenge you to take control of one of the biggest decisions of your life — your retirement plan.

Get opinions from people you trust, who you look up to financially. Ask to meet with your employer’s retirement plan specialist, or a financial professional, and make sure you are choosing a retirement plan that is right for you.

Don’t think you can put enough away? Do the best that you can today. Maybe in a few months or years, you can do more. The sooner you start, the more you reap the benefits.

Not sure where to start? Check next month for tips, conversation starters and helpful questions.

Claire Damgaard is an agent with New York Life Insurance Co. in Dubuque.

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