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Countdown to Retirement

Countdown to retirement

As you near retirement it’s important that you are taking the right steps to prepare for the next stage in your life. Don’t let these strange times cause you to take your eyes off the prize. Here’s a checklist to make sure you’re on the right track to the retirement you desire.

5+ years until retirement

  • Visualize your retirement. Think about your goals for the future and where you see yourself spending your retirement years. Do you plan to continue to work or you wish to travel the world? Do you want to live near family in retirement? Are you thinking of moving to a retirement community? How are you planning for any future health care needs as you age? Your answers will help determine your retirement income needs. 
  • Estimate your income needs. Once you have an idea of the retirement lifestyle you want, you can estimate how much retirement income you’ll need to support it. Talk to a financial professional to run the numbers and compare options, ensuring that your plan aligns with your goals and desires for retirement. □ Keep saving. As you near retirement, focus on building your retirement savings and making sure your spending is in line with your future goals.

3-5 years from retirement

  • Review your retirement benefits. Be sure you understand how your benefits will work in retirement, including Social Security, pension plans and other retirement plans. If you have questions, ask your employer or contact the U.S. Social Security Administration ( for questions about Social Security benefits. 
  • Assess future health care needs. Seek out information about Medicare and any employer-sponsored health benefits that will be a part of your retirement. Consider options to help pay for care needs as you age.

1-3 years from retirement

  • Calculate Social Security benefits. Compare the benefit amounts you would receive by taking Social Security benefits early at age 62 or at full retirement age (currently 66 years and 2 months). For every year you delay taking Social Security (up to age 70), you’ll receive a larger monthly benefit. 
  • Make a budget. Once you understand your benefits and have determined your retirement lifestyle, craft a budget to be sure the lifestyle is achievable. Ensure this budget and planning allows for unknowns and changes in your investments and health. 
  • Consider adjusting your asset allocation. As you near retirement you may wish to reallocate some of your assets into lower risk investments. Evaluate the effect this may have on your retirement income.

1 year or less

  • Consolidate and automate accounts. You will likely have multiple income sources in retirement. Set up automation of as many as possible such as automatically depositing Social Security payments. Consider using automatic bill payment for items like insurance premiums. 
  • Transition your health care coverage. Begin activating any retiree health benefits your employer provides. Check your Medicare eligibility and apply for coverage three months before you turn 65.
  • Set up your Social Security payments. If you decide to start taking Social Security, contact the U.S. Social Security Administration to receive necessary paperwork to file for payments. 
  • Plan your retirement income stream. Ensure that your withdrawal strategy is finalized and you have enough income drawn from your assets each month to cover your expenses.
  • Explore living options. Depending your retirement goals, be sure to evaluate all of your options to make those dreams a reality. It may be best to downsize from your large home, or if you wish to travel, you may appreciate the added security and conveniences  an active adult community or retirement community can provide.

Start planning today

While the current COVID-19 pandemic has created a unique planning situation, it’s still important to have a plan. Having a game plan in place will help ensure you have your bases covered for your transition into retirement, and it gives you the flexibility to adjust for unplanned events. Your plan should be customized for your goals and updated as life and circumstances change. To get a more personalized plan for your transition into retirement and discover the many options available to you, contact a financial advisor or a consultant at a senior living community.

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