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Last week, we mentioned that it is a good idea to sign up for online statements about your Social Security benefits. However, when it comes to retirement planning, Social Security is just the beginning. In a USA Today Money Watch column, Linda Leitz, a NAPFA-registered financial planner, fielded a question from a reader who is soon to retire and wondering about whether it is better to invest Social Security checks or us that money pay off a mortgage.

Leitz comments that you can pay off your mortgage if this is what really important to you but adds that for some people continuing to carry a mortgage is not a bad idea, as long as the interest rate is not high. 

She also points out that investing in an IRA can reduce your Social Security Tax but you need to decide what kind of IRA (Roth or Traditional) makes sense based on your income.

Since some people end up on either end of the spectrum (investing too much or too little), Leitz recommends a balance: “Ideally, you’ll want some conservative[ly invested] money that you could dip into soon and some money in stock mutual funds that can grow until you need it.”

Leitz also offers advice that can be useful at any age: she stresses that paying down and eliminating consumer debt (like credit cards) is a top priority.

This column offers several options and provides general advice. When reading or writing into financial advice columns, you have to remember that the expert cannot tailor the advice to your specific situation because he or she does not have enough detailed information about your life.

It is helpful to read financial advice and stay informed but when it is time to make these important decisions, seek the counsel of a Fee-Only financial advisor who can work with you directly. If you are in Virginia, Maryland or Washington DC, Claire Emory of Clarity Financial Planning, LLC is a NAPFA-registered Fee-Only financial advisor dedicated to helping people, and women especially, take care of themselves and the people they love.