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Rounding up a retirement plan: Deborah Popa

For those of us looking forward to the day our employment status changes to official retiree – and which of us aren’t? – here’s one how-to: the story of Deborah Popa, a benefits administrator in Human Resources who specializes in worker’s compensation and return to work.

Popa has been in her role at Purdue for more than 12 years, and previously worked as a nurse at Home Hospital, Visiting Nurses, Subaru-Isuzu Automotive and Wabash National.

She calls it a well-rounded career – one she began putting a cap on in June of this year when she began voluntary early partial retirement.

Throughout Popa’s employment history, she accumulated several different retirement accounts and plans, with employer contributions held in multiple accounts. Popa and her husband began saving for retirement early – in amounts as small as $25.

“There wasn’t an overall focus or plan for retirement,” Popa said. “Retirement was far off into the future – for old people!”

Beginning to save early is one of her main pieces of advice: “Start out when you’re young, even if it’s just a few dollars.”

Popa has attended the Road to Retirement event multiple times, picking up new concepts and learning new terminology each time. When her husband retired in May, that brought the need for a comprehensive plan into focus.

She has made use of the resources found at Fidelity’s local office in the Purdue Memorial Union several times, getting advice from a personal financial advisor.
What does Popa like most about Fidelity?

“They don’t push products or solutions,” Popa said. “They educate and point out alternatives. And their tools are terrific, especially the planner and the Social Security tool. We devised a comprehensive plan, and then I got an illustrated confirmation in the mail.

“It was a great combination: Online flexibility, followed by a document that I can easily refer to as the plan is executed.”

Fidelity helped the Popas create a budget, estimate their retirement income and consolidate their retirement accounts, simplifying their financial picture. Those looking to follow in Popa’s retirement-focused footsteps would do well to heed her advice.

“Take advantage of the help provided at the local office,” she said. “Retirement is so much more complicated than you might anticipate. It’s good to have help!”

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