Tips to Start Planning for Retirement

Older adult couple planning for retirement

Retirement. Ahh. The good life of fun, relaxation and leisure time. That precious commodity so elusive in our younger years. But don’t be fooled. That laid back, less structured, carefree lifestyle requires planning. Preparing both emotionally and financially for this exciting new adventure will pave the way for an easy, stress-free transition.

Here are some guidelines on how to plan for retirement.

You’re Thinking About It

  • As your target retirement date approaches the 5-year mark, it’s time to take a realistic look at your savings and retirement accounts to see just how much money you will have to live on once the regular paychecks stop rolling in. Be sure to consider taxes in that total. If that amount is considerably lower than what you are currently living on, it might be a good idea to start cutting some expenses. Try living on your retirement budget for a month to see exactly which adjustments will need to be made.  

  • This is also the time to begin thinking about creating a more conservative portfolio that will deliver a dependable stream of investment income.

  • As you enter this stage of planning your retirement, it’s time for the rightsizing conversation. It’s very possible your current house no longer suits your needs and is more a source of aggravation than enjoyment. This is the time to consider becoming part of an active adult community.

  • While you’re still receiving a paycheck, try increasing the amount you put aside to start creating that retirement cushion.

It’s Around the Corner

  • Discuss your social security options with your spouse and financial advisor. The earlier you take it, the smaller your check will be. Study the numbers to see if it works to wait a little longer and take home a larger check each month.

  • Your current employer may allow you to retain health insurance benefits when you retire. But, if that is not the case, now is the time to make sure you have a post-retirement health insurance plan firmly in place. You might want to think about taking care of any elective procedures before your benefits situation changes.

  • Planning for retirement is a great opportunity to get organized. Make sure all your important documents are updated and easily accessed by loved ones should the need arise.  

  • Now is the time to consider any major expenditures you’ve been putting off. They will make much less of an impact on your daily life while there is still money coming in.

You’re Counting the Months

  • Now that you’ve moved all the financial pieces into place, it’s time to consider how you will spend your newly acquired free time. Think about the hobbies you’ve always wanted to pursue or the new skills you’d like to learn. Explore new outlets to expand your social horizons and make new friends.

  • It’s possible leaving your current position does not necessarily mean you are ready to stop working altogether. Should you need or desire to embark on a new work path, this is the time to seriously check out the options.

This is your time and with a little effort and attention to the details, it can be joyous, filled with enlightenment, discovery and new relationships. The golden years can be truly golden if you—and your checkbook—are ready.