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Personal Finance Interview with Sue Campbell on Adult Phase 2

Personal Finance Interview with Sue Campbell on Adult Phase 2 for Mint.com

If you think PBS is just for preschoolers, it's time to take a second look. The channel behind "Sesame Street" and "Mister Rogers" has its sites on educating a slightly older audience: The middle aged.

The nonprofit's two-year-old web affiliate, Next Avenue, is geared to those who are in their second phase of adulthood.

"In your 20s, 30s and into your 40s, you tend to be in a 'building' mode. You go to school or get training for a career, find a partner, create a family, establish who you are," says Sue Campbell, editorial and content director for Next Avenue. Then, in Adult Part 2, there's a shift. Children grow and leave, your perspective turns inward."

Next Avenue hopes to provide a range of problem-solving articles that deal with everything on giving back to facing crises like being laid off or caring for an older parent.

We recently checked in with Sue and her colleague Money & Security Channel editor Rich Eisenberg to get their insight on how these Adult Part 2ers can make smart decisions when dealing with their finances.

Can you tell us about Next Avenue?

Next Avenue was launched almost two years ago as a PBS web affiliate. The founding team wondered what would happen if PBS served America's booming population of mid-lifers as well as it serves children. From that idea, we decided to create the digital site as a source of news, advice, perspective and inspiration.

Who should be reading it?

Our sweet spot is readers who are curious and seeking meaning and answers for the questions in their lives. We aim at a 45- to 70-year-old audience - a big range. What they have in common is a sense of independence and intelligence in how they approach media. And they want to maintain vitality, energy and joy as they grow older.

What should people in the Adult Part 2 phase of life be thinking about when it comes to personal finance?

They should be thinking about: whether they have enough saved for an emergency; whether they are saving enough for daily living expenses in retirement and health care costs in retirement; whether they are paying too much in taxes; whether they have a diversified investment portfolio; whether they have too much debt; whether they have the right insurance to protect their families; whether they've taken the proper estate-planning steps so their assets go where they want, upon death, with the least amount of taxes due.

What do you think are the biggest mistakes or oversights that people in this age bracket make when it comes to their finances?

Some of them lack the discipline to save regularly for retirement. Some are too emotional as investors; panicking when markets go down and buying stocks and mutual funds once markets have risen. A mistake some couples make is not talking honestly and openly about the state of their finances and planning appropriately for their retirement.

With the economy still struggling, what are the biggest money concerns of Adult Part 2ers?

That they might lose their jobs and, if so, might be unable to find new ones. That they have not saved enough to retire when and how they'd like.

What are the smartest things people can do to save for retirement?

Invest automatically through an employer-sponsored plan, if you can. If you don't have access to one, then make a point of saving regularly for retirement each year through self-employment retirement plans such as a SEP or SIMPLE IRA or Solo 401(k). Try to increase the amount you save each year. Save in a way that will keep taxes down -- either through a deductible retirement plan such as a traditional IRA or a retirement plan that will be tax-free when you withdraw the money, such as a Roth IRA. Work with a financial adviser to help you reach your goals.

When should people consider enlisting help to meet their retirement goals (or even figure out what those goals are)?

Once they hit their 40s.

What are some good tools and resources people nearing retirement should use to help with their financial planning?

A fee-only financial adviser is a good resource. Online calculators such as the Ballpark Estimator tool and retirement calculators from major mutual funds are worth checking out -- to see whether you're on track in your retirement savings and to see how much your savings will provide in retirement income.

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