Tips to Prepare for a Successful Retirement

July 02, 2019

Planning for retirement is a lifelong process.  In your 20’s you may open your first 401(k) or Roth IRA account; in your 40’s you may pay off all of your debts and start contributing those funds to your retirement; And in your 60’s you may make your bucket list, looking forward to your last day of work.

You have put money, hard work, and time into saving and preparing for your retirement. As you approach this incredible milestone, there are a few action steps you can take to ensure you set yourself up for financial, and personal, success.

Create a Plan

There are a few questions to ask yourself as you prepare for retirement, as the answers to those questions should be a part of your comprehensive retirement plan.

When do I want to retire officially?

Becoming more specific about your retirement timeframe, as well as estimating how much money you will need, can provide you with beneficial information that you can use to fine-tune your current savings plan. Are you on track to meet your retirement goals or are changes needed?

How much money do I need to retire and be able to live the lifestyle I want?

You may also want to work with your financial advisor to do a full evaluation of your current retirement savings and to create a financial plan for pre- and post-retirement.  Once a plan is in place, re-evaluate it at least once a year to ensure that you are staying on track to reach your goals and to make any adjustments if necessary.

When do I plan to collect Social Security?

Although you can begin collecting Social Security at age 62, it may be best to wait until age 70 or later, as the longer you wait to collect your benefit, the larger that benefit may become.  Your specific circumstances—family, health, current income, etc.—will help you determine the ideal time to begin collecting, as this is a very personal decision.

Assess Financial Status

The status of your current retirement savings vehicles can provide you with good insight into your readiness for retirement.  The first step is to look at what you have available in all of your accounts—Do you need to adjust your risk tolerance level? Do you need to increase the amount you are saving?

In general, younger investors are able to take more risk with their funds and can be more aggressive with their portfolios.  However, as an investor approaches retirement, it is typically recommended to take a more conservative approach, minimizing overall risk.

If the total of your accounts is lower than you expected, you may also want to look at your options for increasing income and/or reducing expenses so you can contribute more to your retirement.  Start by developing a budget to see where your money is going each month. Which expenses are obligatory? Which are optional? From this, you can determine where you may be able to cut costs or if you would prefer to have additional income from a part-time job or side hustle to cover the difference.

Determine Future Work Plans

Part of your post-retirement plan will be determining if you and/or your spouse will continue working. 

If you are hoping to stop working altogether, then you will need to know if you have enough in your current retirement savings accounts. 

One example may be that you have enough to cover all of your living expenses but your bucket list has grown, so an extra income would allow you to check off many of those items.  Monetizing a hobby or taking a part-time position could be possible solutions.

Whether you continue to work because of need or want, or you decide to no longer be employed, your plan should take this income, or lack thereof, into account.

Evaluate Health

Your physical health can play a large role in your retirement years, impacting both your ability to enjoy retirement and the amount that you may need to save.  Being, and staying, proactive can help you achieve retirement success.

Begin by scheduling appointments to meet with your doctors to evaluate your overall physical health.  Together, you can discuss a plan to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Of course, eating healthy, exercising and getting enough sleep are things that everyone can do, but your doctor can provide you with more personalized recommendations based on your medical history and needs.  The healthier you are, the more likely you will be able to enjoy your retirement years and accomplish the goals that you have made.  In addition, better health typically means lower healthcare costs, letting you enjoy more of your hard-earned savings.

As you create your retirement plan, you will also want to research which healthcare options will be available to you once you decide to retire.  You will likely be eligible for Medicare at age 65; however, this may not cover all of your medical expenses.  Does your current employer offer any health benefits that continue into retirement? Would COBRA be an option?  No matter which route is best for your situation, ensure that you have accounted for these costs when preparing your retirement budget.

Discuss Plan with Partner/Spouse

Communication is the key to successfully planning for retirement with your partner/spouse.  It is so important to ensure that you are both on the same page about post-retirement plans. While one partner may be thinking about traveling, the other may be more focused on visiting the grandchildren more frequently. 

Have a discussion about what you each want out of retirement.  The options are endless—starting a side business, taking on a new hobby, downsizing, visiting, moving to a new place, etc.  Evaluate any differences and work through your bucket lists to create a plan in which each of you can accomplish your individual goals, as well as the goals you set together. This will be just one part of your overall retirement plan and can help you as you assess your financial status and determine funds needed to maintain a stable financial future in your retirement years.

Contact Howard Capital Management, Inc.

At Howard Capital Management, Inc. (HCM), we understand how important it is to work with someone you trust, that will create and deliver on a personalized plan which has your best interest in mind. By planning for your financial future now, you can make your retirement an exciting and smooth transition.