No matter how you picture the next phase after your working years, it’s time to maximize what you’ve worked so hard to save, and not jeopardize your plans for retirement.
Your 40s and 50s are a good time to get serious about deciding how you want to live once you retire and take inventory of your financial situation. As you gear up to retire, you want to consider:
- The current mix of investments in your portfolio
- Your current assets
- Your anticipated future assets vs. income
- When you want to start receiving Social Security
- How you’ll pay for health care costs
- The tax impact of drawing down your assets over time
Are you on track to retire when and how you want? If not, you have time to catch up where you need to. Let’s explore how you can form a solid financial strategy for your life in retirement — and other important considerations before you transition into your retirement years.
How will you spend your time in retirement?
How you plan to spend your time can have a big impact on your retirement finances. You’ve probably already been throwing around some ideas, but now is the time to start nailing down your picture for retirement.
What kind of lifestyle do you want? Whether you want to spend your summers fishing or take an annual trip to Jamaica, it’s time to brainstorm. You may not know all the answers, but you can revisit them over time to fill in the blanks.
Below are four key questions you should be asking yourself — to help you be retirement ready:
1. What do you plan to do with your time in retirement?
Retirement can be a fulfilling time devoted to your passions and other pursuits, like volunteering. What will an average day look like for you? Travel and hobbies can be expensive. You’ll need to make sure you have enough income to support the lifestyle you want. And with inflation, basic living costs will likely cost more.
2. Will you work in retirement?
For many, retirement may not be a distinct point between working and not working. Maybe you like the sense of purpose and social interaction that comes with working. You could be thinking about working part-time and transitioning into retirement. How long will this income last?
3. Who will depend on you for personal and financial support?
If you have adult children or grandchildren, you need to consider how they may rely on you financially. Are you caring for an aging parent right now — or could in the future? This can affect your financial situation. Explore the costs of that support in time and dollars and factor that into your retirement plan.
4. Where will you live once retired?
Where you live in retirement affects your income — and your emotional, social and physical well-being. Will you stay put? Move closer to family? Downsize? Be sure to research how income taxes where you plan to live could affect you. Consider how your location and living situation needs to adapt to your needs as you age. For example, should you opt for a single-level home?
How much income will you have in retirement?
Social Security should account for less than half of your future income, so your retirement and/or pension plan and savings will need to make up the rest.
- Have you checked your 401(k) account balance lately?
- What is your latest Social Security estimate?
- Don’t forget about inflation in your retirement income strategy. The average inflation rate has been about three percent.
Now is the perfect time to gauge whether you’re on track to have enough income to support your retirement lifestyle.
You’ll want to calculate your potential retirement income needs, with your retirement goals in mind, to determine how much to save annually.
What if you started for retirement saving late?
Maybe you just haven’t been able to save much up to this point. The good news is it’s never too late to start! Consider investing the maximum amount in your 401(k) — either pre-tax or after tax. Also:
- Think about opening a Traditional or Roth IRA.
- Pay attention to the amount of debt you take on and pay off before retirement if possible.
- Consider whether you need the help of a financial professional.
- Consider diversifying your assets.
- And don’t take on additional risk to make up for lost time. The key is to start, and you can step up your savings over time — it can really pay off. If you’re not where you need to be financially right now, don’t worry. You still have time to make adjustments.
What else can you do to prepare for retirement?
Here are three steps you can take to gauge where you are financially right now, and plan for where you want to be in retirement:
- Meet with a financial professional to:
- Assess your investment portfolio based on your age, risk tolerance and objectives
- Review where you’re at financially and make appropriate decisions based on that
- Think about your long-term health
- Stay healthy by eating right and getting regular exercise
- Look into potential long-term care insurance options
- Be smart with your money
- If you have any extra income, direct that money to your savings if you can
- Before you buy that cabin, consider any implications a major purchase may make on your retirement plans