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Finding a suitable place to retire can be easier said than done. As a retiree, a new home that suits your financial needs along with your desire to adventure (or rest) can be difficult to find and balance, even on a larger budget.

To make your life a little easier, weve compiled a list of locations that will suit your budgetary needs and give life to an abundance of new adventures.

Grand Rapids, Michigan: Our beautiful hometown of Grand Rapids has made the cut for the prime retirement locations around the country. We all know and love the growing art and museum scene sprouting up throughout our beloved city. With Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, ArtPrize, the Grand Rapids Public Museum, and many other cost friendly attractions, its difficult to grow tired of spending your days wandering around the city. With an abundance of parks, outdoor activities, rivers, and lakes, you can find your fair share of ways to enjoy nature.

Theres more to retiring in Grand Rapids than things to do, theres also an abundance of financial benefits. With a cost of living that is 11.5% lower than the national average, most retirees (age 65 and older)pay $684 monthly in rent; homeowners pay $1,080 monthly with a mortgage, or $427 per month if their home is paid off. Throw in that Michigan does not have state tax on Social Security and youre all set to turn Grand Rapids into your perfect place for retirement.

Louisville, Kentucky: As the host city for the Kentucky Derby and offering an abundance of horse races, parks, forests, and historic memorial spots, Louisville is the perfect place for the retiree with a love for the outdoors. With over 100 miles of bike and hiking trails and over 14,000 acres of parks, theres no shortage of activities for the active retiree. Theres more to do than explore the outdoors, as Louisville also features a vivacious restaurant scene and a blossoming arts scene.

Financially, Louisville features practicality for retirees, as the cost of living is 9.5% below the national average, with the median home cost at $148,000, the average mortgage of $1,068 (or an average of $373 monthly if your home is paid off), and a median rent rate of $573. Louisville is a wonderful option for retirees who want to enjoy nature, a thriving community, and can have it all at a reasonable price.

Cape Coral, Florida: If you dream of spending your retirement enjoying the white sand beaches of Florida, look no further than Cape Coral. With affordable prices and having a cost of living that is a surprising 4% below the national average, you dont need to break the bank to retire by the beach, with home prices that average at $190,000. Featuring incredible weather, above average air quality, and a low crime rate, its difficult to find any negative aspects of pursing a beach style retirement in Cape Coral, Florida. Offering the enjoyment of watching the Boston Red Sox winter training camp and being a short drive from the Southwest Florida International Airport, its easy to find ways to entertain yourself if you happen to grow bored with the beach. As Florida has no state tax on Social Security or pensions, consider making Cape Coral your future home for an affordable retirement without the tedious winters.

Athens, Georgia: Combining affordable prices, mild winters, and a thriving music scene; Athens, Georgia is a prime destination for retirement. With a cost of living that is 1% below the national average, the average home price is $139,000. Nestled in a bustling college town, Athens features a good tax climate, low crime rate and an abundance of activities to enjoy. Rolling Stones once named this lively town the number one college music city in the country, featuring rock, country, and symphonies. Being within a stones throw of Atlanta, Athens has much to offer for the more active retiree or one that prefers mild winters with the livelihood of a nearby college town to maintain a youthful feel.

Abilene, Texas: With a cost of living that is a hefty 17% below the national average, Abilene, Texas might be the place for you if youre retiring on a budget. The average home price in Abilene is $139,000, which can greatly open up your options for finding a new nest for retirement. A lower cost of living makes for more than just cheaper homes, in Abilene, youll pay less for groceries, healthcare, and utilities. With a low rate of crime, a robust economy and an average tax climate, its quite possible youve found your next city to enjoy your retirement in.

When planning for retirement, it is imperative to find a location that suits all your needs. Cost of living, a sustainable rent/mortgage rate, enjoyable activities, and proximity to public transport (airports, busses, etc.) are all important factors to consider. How often do you plan to travel? How much can you allocate to your monthly bills? How adventurous do you plan to be? Be sure to communicate your hopes, dreams, and plans for your retirement with your financial advisor so that you can create a life in retirement that fits your needs, in location and beyond. 

Mutual FundsMutual funds have become exceedingly popular over the last decade. Over 80 million people (half the households in America) invest in mutual funds. Despite how popular mutual funds are, many people dont know how they work. Many people know they buy mutual funds, but that is often the extent of their knowledge on the subject. If youre one of the many who arent sure how mutual funds work, get ready to learn.

In short, a mutual fund is a collection of stocks and bonds. The fund is split among investors, each owning individual shares that make up the entire fund. The mutual fund collects money from an abundance of investors and shareholders to construct a portfolio, typically consisting of real estate, stocks, cash, bonds, and other assets. In doing this, all investors and shareholders get to share in the profits of a larger charter.

Making money in a mutual fund may seem complicated, but its actually quite simple. Income is earned from the dividends on stocks and the interest on bonds. From there, the mutual fund pays out the income received to the shareholders. If the fund has capital gain (when it sells securities that have had an increase in price), theyre passed on to the investors. Also, if the holdings of the fund increase, you can sell your mutual fund for a profit. Typically, funds offer the choice to shareholders to reinvest with their profits if they so choose. This may sound complicated, but mutual funds are typically managed by a team of financial professionals. These professionals spend a vast amount of time researching assets, stocks, bonds, risks, and how to invest your money as wisely as possible.

There are many advantages to using a mutual fund as one of the ways you invest for retirement. The diversification in mutual funds allows for decreased risk with how you allocate and invest your funds. When you invest in a variety of assets, your potential losses from one asset are minimized by the gains from your other assets. The transaction costs involved with mutual funds are lower than the typical transaction cost due to the large amounts of buying and selling the mutual fund does at any given time. Mutual funds also give the convenience of liquidity; at any given time your shares can be converted into cash. Finally, one of the greatest advantages to mutual funds is their simplicity. Theyre easy to access, as virtually any bank offers access to buying into mutual funds. Additionally, the minimum investment is typically quite small, add in an automatic purchase plan and you can sit back and let your investment grow with minimum effort on your part.

Its not a shocking insight that there is an abundance of ways for you to invest for your future. When determining what is right for you, it is important to examine your risk, time, and what type of portfolio or investment is best for you. A mutual fund is an excellent way to plan for your future with reduced risk and the ease of simplicity.  

Metrics DataFinancial advisors may seem like mythical human beings that are able to somehow predict the financial future. Unfortunately, were here to burst that bubble and demystify the data driven process. Financial advisors arent omniscient and they cant predict the future. Despite that, they do use a variety of a potential investments metrics history and current valuations to make judgment calls about the future of the potential investments performance versus the market. At MyRetirementPlan, we use historical data over 3, 5 & 10 years, as well as at least 17 other metrics for investment selections and 3-Year data to make the allocation decision for your mutual fund portfolio.

Now, what does all this mean for you? Chances are youre like the rest of us that are still fairly convinced financial advisors are lying about being omniscient. To the average investor, a data driven process means your financial advisor is choosing to use history to decide where and how to allocate your funds into investments. Your level of risk will also determine how your financial advisor uses the markets fiscal history to determine which investments best suit your goals and type of portfolio. A skilled financial advisor can create a portfolio to suit a variety of risk levels utilizing their data driven process.

Not all data driven processes are created equal. Typically, less than 50% of portfolio managers match or outperform their benchmarks over 3-year and 5-year periods (Standard & Poors Indices Versus Active Funds Scorecard, August 2011). Additionally, MyRetirementPlan has found success putting more weight on 3-year data versus 5-year or 10-year data. Three-year data falls within the typical 5-year business cycle, and the bestinvestments typically will change within that 5-year cycle.

So, why is it so difficult for many financial advisors to match or outperform their benchmarks over the 3-year and 5-year periods? The simple answer is that humans can view data and come to different decisions, machines cannot. At MyRetirementPlan, we utilize 20 metrics working behind the scenes, searching through five asset classes, making it exceedingly simple to locate your best investment solutions. It is through this process that your money can be allocated according to your appetite for risk and thirst for reward. By utilizing the process, Bob Sloma the founder of MyRetirementPlan, has beat the S&P 500, especially on a 3-year and 5-year basis, which is where 50% of portfolio managers fail to meet or outperform their 3-year & 5-year benchmarks.

The data driven process utilized by MyRetirementPlan maintains a process of research, which would demand making portfolio changes only periodically and maintains a process that is not only repeatable but is able to outperform the market on a relative consistent basis.

In becoming a member of MyRetirementPlan, you receive personalized access to our cutting-edge investment engine. This puts you behind the wheel of your retirement plan, with a little (or a lot) of guidance from us. Rest easy with a financial advisor who may not be omniscient, but has a resume that shows hes the closest thing to it.Sign up today and take your first step toward a more secure future.

dollar cost averagingDollar cost averaging might sound like a great way to make the most of a fast-food restaurants dollar menu. On the contrary, its actually a simple yet phenomenal tool for your investments. Dollar cost averaging is a method of buying a fixed dollar amount of a particular investment on a regular schedule. This means when prices are low, you buy more shares, in turn fewer shares are purchased when prices are higher.

When utilizing dollar cost averaging, you begin with a predetermined amount of money to use when purchasing your investments according to a schedule established in advance. This means, if you have $200 to invest, there are periods in which you may be buying more or less of the particular investment than you did during the previous period based on its market price at that time.

The theory behind dollar cost averaging is that over the course of time your investments are averaging out, thus resulting in paying an average amount for your stocks. This average price will result in avoiding the risks of buying too much of a stock when the prices are high and utilize affordability to purchase more when the price drops.

What sets dollar cost averaging apart from alternative investing methods are the advantages it offers to inexperienced investors or those with less to set aside for their investments. Dollar cost averaging allows for an investor to consistently build their portfolio without breaking the bank or needing a large lump sum to begin with. This means that even if all you have is $50 a month to invest with, you can still get started and begin your road to preparing for your future and retirement. If you chose to have the process automated, you can rest easy knowing that every period your portfolio will continue to grow. Portfolios that utilize dollar cost averaging have the ability to grow to a substantial amount with consistent investing and patience.

Additional benefits rest in the peace of mind for those who are hesitant to place their future in a market with a history of multiple crashes. By investing in smaller, consistent portions, new investors are less at risk for a large loss should there be a market crash or drastic drop in their investments worth. 

When thinking of retirement, investing, and preparing for the future, it is rare that money is no option. Dollar cost averaging is an uncomplicated manageable way to build your portfolio without breaking the bank or opening the door to unnecessary risk. Even the tightest budgets can find relief and can begin to build their portfolio through the consistent use of dollar cost averaging.