Contributed by: Laurie Renchik, CFP®, MBA
It’s the home stretch! Important retirement decisions during the five to ten years before you leave the workforce can easily create more questions than answers. Dropping to the bottom line, one way to describe retirement readiness is getting in step with financial and lifestyle matters before you stop working.
What to do? Start with the big picture and think about what the ideal retirement looks like for you. Maybe you have already dropped to the bottom line and have a preferred timeframe in your sights. Either way, below are five steps to help.
Five Fundamental Steps to Help Guide Decisions Leading Up to Your Retirement Day:
- See When You Can Realistically Retire
It’s not a simple decision. Start with getting a general idea about out how much money you’re likely to spend each year. Some expenses drop off like payroll taxes, retirement savings, and potentially mortgage debt. Additional expenses may surface like extended travel, bucket list items, or higher than average health care costs.
- Make a Plan to Pay Off Your Debt
While you are still working, review all outstanding debt. Personal loans, student loans, and credit cards tend to have higher interest rates. Make a plan to pay these off before you retire. Now is also the time to find the balance between putting “extra” on the mortgage and funding retirement accounts. Your financial planner and CPA can help with these decisions.
- Run the Numbers to Understand Where You Stand Today
This is your opportunity to see how close you are to your potential retirement goal and what changes you might need to make. An annual review with your financial planner will help chart progress, identify gaps, and create solutions.
- See How Retirement Age Affects Social Security Benefits
Some people are inclined to begin receiving Social Security as soon as possible, even if it means reduced payouts. For planning purposes the best decision depends on many variables including health, wealth, tax situation, and life expectancy. Understanding the impact to your retirement plan is a big part of making the decision when to draw those benefits.
- Keep Your Plan on Track
Now that you are hitting the final stretch it is time to give your retirement savings all that you can. Ramping up for the next ten years will make a big difference.
You are almost there! Candidly thinking through your options and taking your plan to the next level is sure to help you hit your retirement mark in good stride. But if you need help along the way, please reach out to us or your Financial Planner for guidance.
Laurie Renchik, CFP®, MBA is a Partner and Senior Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® In addition to working with women who are in the midst of a transition (career change, receiving an inheritance, losing a life partner, divorce or remarriage), Laurie works with clients who are planning for retirement. Laurie is a member of the Leadership Oakland Alumni Association and is a frequent contributor to Money Centered.
Opinions expressed are those of Laurie Renchik and are not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Every individual's situation is unique; please consult with a financial professional before making any investment decision.