While the transition from your working years to retirement can be both rewarding and exciting, it can also come with a lot of uncertainty. In an effort to alleviate some of that stress, consider the following as you approach retirement, which will hopefully increase your confidence heading into this next phase of life.
Know Your Expenses
To determine how much money you’ll need to have saved in order to retire, you’ll have to get an idea of what your retirement spending will be. Some expenses will probably decrease while others like travel or health care could increase. Consider tracking your expenses for a few months to get a better idea of where your money is being spent.
Beware of Stock Concentration
Many people who have worked for publically traded companies tend to have a large portion of their portfolio concentrated in their employer’s stock. Although the stock might be performing well, having too much exposure to one company or industry can significantly put your retirement at risk. Seek ways to diversify that risk.
Invest More Conservatively
Even if you don’t have concentrated positions in your portfolio, the same concepts of diversification and risk reduction still apply. While working, you can afford to take on more risk since you can work longer or save more if the markets aren’t cooperating, but once work stops, reducing the volatility in your portfolio can improve your likelihood of maintaining your nest egg long-term.
Maximize Social Security Benefits
For each year you delay Social Security retirement benefits, you earn a delayed retirement credit. Coordinating benefits with your spouse can sometimes result in even more lifetime benefits by claiming spousal benefits or implementing the file and suspend strategy. Seek professional advice prior to making your election because this decision will have lifelong financial implications for both you and your spouse.
Determine Life Insurance Needs
By retirement, term insurance might be getting close to expiring, or you might be losing coverage that was previously provided by your employer. Determine if your employer sponsored insurance is portable, allowing you to continue coverage after terminating employment. If it is determined that your current policies are no longer needed, accumulated cash value could be put to use for other retirement needs, and terminating the coverage could be a way to cut expenses.
Consider Long-Term Care Insurance
Depleting your retirement nest-egg due to a lengthy stay in a nursing home is a major concern for many retirees. This risk can be mitigated by having some form of long-term care insurance. Traditional long-term care plans can be very expensive, especially as you get older, but there are other options like hybrid life/long-term care policies that can often be more cost effective.
Revisit Estate Planning Documents
If it has been a while since you last updated your wills, medical directives, or powers of attorney, now is a good time to make any necessary revisions. Having these documents in place and updated with the help of an attorney prior to any decline in mental capacity will ensure that your assets will go to your desired heirs and that your wishes are implemented should you become unable to make decisions on your own.
Enroll in Medicare
Depending on your age at retirement and if you’re eligible for any retiree health insurance provided by your employer, enrollment in Medicare is a big decision. Determine if any other insurance will serve as primary or secondary to Medicare, which will tell you who pays benefits first in the event of a claim. Consider Medigap policies to supplement your other Medicare coverage. Explore Medicare Advantage as an alternative to traditional Medicare.
Gift with a Purpose
If you’re charitably inclined and have the excess funds, determine the best way to effectively transfer assets to charitable organizations you’re passionate about or transferring assets to your heirs. Consider establishing 529 college savings plans for grandchildren to assist with their educational needs. These gifting decisions can have significant income, gift, and estate tax implications, so be sure to consult your legal and tax advisors.
Define Retirement Goals
Retirement is what you make of it. Is there a passion that you’ve always wanted to explore but haven’t had the time? Would you prefer working in a reduced role to ease your way into retirement? Do you envision spending more time with your grandchildren? Would you like to buy that vacation home you’ve always wanted? No matter your goals, create a financial plan to make them all a reality.