(John) Welcome to Money Matters on Southern Bank's Financial Wellness Network. I'm John.

(Jessica) And I'm Jessica. Today, the topic is gray retirement?

(John) Yes. Gray retirement is when you retire before you reach full retirement age, typically in your late 50s or early 60s.

(Jessica) Oh, so, where do we start?

(John) It's a good idea to reevaluate your budget and reduce expenses where you can. If you are eligible for Social Security, decide whether it's best to start benefits immediately or to wait. You also need to plan for healthcare expenses. If you have a high deductible, you'll need to have that amount in an emergency savings account.

(Jessica) Yeah. So, what about debt?

(John) If possible, you want to eliminate credit card debt. The ultimate goal would be to eliminate all debt, including your mortgage and home equity loan.

(Jessica) That would free up some cash.

(John) Exactly. Finally, a diversified portfolio can help mitigate risk. Consult with a financial advisor as soon as possible.

(Jessica) Excellent. Thanks, John. See you next time on the Financial Wellness Network.

(John) Remember, financial wellness starts here.

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