Retirement age sneaks up on us before we know it! And it’s happening to as many as 10,000 Americans every day. Prepared or not, many employees are often forced to take early retirement due to economic setbacks and other corporately conceived reasons. While some people start planning for retirement with their very first jobs, many don’t think about planning till the eleventh hour. Some don’t plan at all. Hopefully you’re somewhere in the middle of this spectrum.
No matter what, unless tragedy strikes and you become disabled or die, retirement will become a reality for everyone at some age. How you meet retirement says a lot about how you’ll spend your retirement years. I have prepared a list of steps to address before you retire that will help you meet this stage of life with dignity and grace. Hopefully you will also arrive with a portfolio that will keep you financially and psychologically secure through the rest of your life.
For help every step of the way, work with a financial advisor. Forest Hills Financial is experienced at helping retirees successfully glide into this phase of life. We’d love to help you.
Decide how you are going to spend your time. Make a real plan for what you are going to do during the first six to 12 months in retirement. Think about what you plan to do for the rest of your retired life. Being active is important. Establishing a routine helps those who have gone to an office or job for their entire adult lives. Regular involvement in sports such as golf and tennis, hiking, cycling and yoga are great to participate in and will keep you feeling youthful.
Do your best to realistically determine how much money you will need to spend on a monthly basis. Include the fun things too like gifts, vacations, and an occasional new car. Don’t forget taxes and emergencies.
Health care is now in your hands. If your employer paid part or all of your health insurance, you’re pretty much on your own now. Payments for Medicare, MadiGap and private insurance will be your responsibility. Make the best estimate you can knowing that foreseeing every necessity is virtually impossible.
Buy long-term care insurance. Now. Need I say more?
Refinance your mortgage. After you retire it is often impossible to borrow money and sometimes because of age retirees are forced to pay higher rates. If you foresee needing the equity in your home, refinance before you retire.
Boost your cash reserves. Make sure your rainy day fund is enough to cover at least six months’ worth of expenses.
Evaluate your sources of income. You have already figured out what you’ll spend on a monthly basis. Now determine where that money will come from.
Revise your investment strategy. The way you’ve handled your investments over the past 30 years is not how you should handle them for the next 30. While preparing for retirement, you were focused on asset accumulation. When you’re in retirement, you need to focus on income and on keeping pace with the increasing cost of living. Assets must be flexible and liquid so you can meet needs you did not anticipate. New words will enter your vocabulary: rollovers and lump sums.
Review your estate plan. Review your will and trust. Don’t have them? Get them. These documents can protect you and your assets while you are alive and benefit your spouse and children when you pass on.
Perhaps the most important thing of all, if you are not excited about retiring, then don’t. Many people quickly become bored after retiring. It’s OK -- even exciting -- to return to school or the workplace. Many do this, often in completely new fields