You’ve been working for a long time, and retirement is starting to cross your mind. You’re excited but you’re also getting worried that you may not be ready to retire. We are here to put that worry to rest. That is why we’ve put together this comprehensive checklist for you to follow before you make the big leap into the golden years. Let’s jump into it.
- Eliminate Your Debt
Before you even think about retiring, you need to rid yourself of any obstacles that can hinder your lifestyle during your retirement. Credit cards, auto loans, and even your mortgage – if possible – are debts that you should pay off in full before taking the leap into the golden years. Doing so will decrease your retirement expenses dramatically, and help ensure you don’t get into a financial pickle later on.
- Build An Emergency Fund
When you start your retirement you will no longer have a stable job to bring in income, and your retirement savings are finite. In general, it is recommended that you have six months worth of expenses put aside into a savings account for an unexpected loss of income or major financial emergency. Before you retire, however, you should aim to make your emergency fund close to a year’s worth of expenses. That will help you let your long-term investments grow, and reduce the odds of you cashing them in at the wrong time.
- Downsize Your Stuff
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting rid of the junk that you don’t need. Chances are you have a lot of stuff that you will not need when you are retired. Selling your unwanted stuff might make you a decent amount to put towards your emergency fund, and will eliminate the clutter that you won’t have to worry about later. Don’t feel like selling your stuff? Donate it? It will surely heighten your mood in retirement.
- Create A Bucket List
Don’t go into retirement without something fun planned! What are some things you’ve always wanted to do, or places you’ve wanted to go? Write them down and plan around them! Be sure to determine when you plan on doing these things, and estimate how much it will cost, which brings us to the next step.
- Determine What Your Minimum Spending Will Be
Keep track of what you spend on food, transportation, housing, clothing, health care (out-of-pocket) and entertainment in the months before retirement. Some of those things might change in retirement – like health care – but try to determine the cost of your basic necessities first, then you can move on to fun, discretionary things like travel.
- Identify Your Retirement Income Sources
Figuring out all of the sources of income for your retirement is important because it will enable you to better plan a realistic withdrawal rate on all your investment accounts. Social Security and pensions are the two most common sources of retirement income used before tapping into other investments. Knowing how much of your basic living expenses are covered by Social Security and pension income is vital to figuring out how much you’ll need to rely on your investment accounts.
- Determine Your Health Insurance Plans
Even if you have employer-provided health insurance when you retire – which isn’t common these days, it is still important to figure out your health insurance plan in retirement. Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Part D (for prescriptions), Medicare supplemental policies – there are several things to consider – and consulting a qualified health insurance agent, especially one with lots of retired clients, is a good idea.
- Decide Where You Want to Live
Are you comfortable staying where you currently live for the rest of your life? Are you thinking about downsizing? Do you want to live in a different climate? Perhaps you want to be closer to family. Clearly, it’s time to start thinking about a comfortable place to settle down in. Cost-of-Living, climate, culture, family, friends, access to quality health care – these are the things only you can prioritize.
- Prepare a Retirement Plan
You may have figured out that this checklist includes many of the important steps required to prepare a comprehensive retirement plan. Income sources, living expenses, needs vs. wants, inflation, taxes, insurance, and investment management are all important when putting together plan. And don’t forget, those plans should be reviewed and updated every year. Working with a financial professional that specializes in retirement planning is often money well spent.
- Plan your Estate
No one wants to think about what happens when they die, but you need to have an estate plan in place, and most experts suggest having it updated every five years, or sooner if your circumstances change. Doing so will help alleviate problems or the burden that may come up with your family when you pass away. Utilize the services of a qualified estate planning attorney to help you.
So there you have it. These are the 10 most important things you should do before you retire. There are many other things to consider before you retire, many of which we are not able to cover in this article. Consider talking with a financial planner and get expert advice on planning help you may need to make your retirement the best time of your life!
Presented by Clear View Financial Services, LLC. Opinions expressed are that of the author and are not endorsed by the named broker-dealer or its affiliates. All information herein has been prepared solely for informational purposes, and it is not an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any security or instrument or to participate in any particular trading strategy. The information in this article is not intended as tax or legal advice. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor.