Plan and Retire

Getting Ready for Retirement One Week at a Time

Erin Palmer

May 10, 2017

Getting ready for retirement one week at a time

Retirement planning doesn’t have to be exhaustive! From consulting a financial advisor to some simple brainstorming, there are plenty of things you can do to prepare for the next stage in your life.

Get a jumpstart on retirement preparation one week at a time. Here is a list of one thing you can do each week to help simplify your retirement.

Week 1:

Make a list of what you want day to day life to be like after retirement and have your spouse make one as well. Will it be full of travel, spending time with family, volunteering or working part-time?

Week 2:

Also create a retirement bucket list that covers all of the things you know you want to do during your retirement. Have your spouse make one as well.

Week 3:

Compare lists with your spouse and discuss any contradictions or questions.

Week 4:

Figure out what you want your housing to be after retirement. If you think you may want buy any new property, it may be smart to do so before retirement so you can include those costs in your retirement budget.

Week 5:

Take the points from your discussion and work together to create a revised list of what life will be like after retirement and what bucket list items are musts.

Week 6:

Use your revised list to set some overall retirement goals.

Week 7:

Compile a list of all your current and expected future sources of income.

Week 8:

Research the details of your Social Security eligibility and the eligibility of your spouse.

Week 9:

Decide when to file for Social Security benefits and make sure that you know all of the documents you will need when the time comes to apply.

Week 10:

Learn about the early withdrawal rules for your 401ks, 403(b)s, IRAs or Deferred Retirement Option Plans (DROP) to make sure that you avoid any penalties if you can.

Week 11:

Learn about inflation and consider how different inflation rates could impact your retirement plans.

Week 12:

Use all of the financial data you’ve collected so far to create an estimate of your future earnings.

Compare your estimated earnings with your retirement goals to help determine what age would be best for you and your spouse to retire, even if it is at different times.
Work with your partner to make sure your goals will support your lifestyle.

Week 13:

Compare your estimated earnings with your retirement goals to help determine what age would be best for you and your spouse to retire, even if it is at different times.

Week 14:

Compare your estimated retirement age with your employer’s recommended retirement age to make sure that you maximize your potential benefits.

Week 15:

Discuss your plans for health insurance after retirement (private insurance, Medicare, etc.) and make note of the estimated costs.

Week 16:

Spend time going over all of your current expenses and make note of the ones that you think will remain after retirement.

Week 17:

Create a list of all current and expected future expenses, including estimated costs of each.

Week 18:

Factor in your expected family costs, like helping with college tuition or contributing to a child’s wedding costs.

Week 19:

Plug your information into a retirement income calculator to help you determine your monthly retirement income.

Week 20:

Use your list of expected income and your list of expected expenses to make a comprehensive budget plan for life after retirement.

Week 21:

Look at all of your debt and make a plan to pay down as much of it as possible before retirement.

Week 22:

Look for opportunities to downsize where possible in your lifestyle to decrease your spending and increase your savings.

Week 23:

Make a list of one-time expenses you need (like home repairs) and make a plan to achieve them before retirement.

Week 24:

Discuss unexpected medical needs and long-term care options with your family so that you can leave room in the budget, just in case.

Meeting with a financial advisor Financial advisors have the expertise to make retirement much easier to manage.

Week 25:

Make sure that you also have emergency savings built into your budget.

Week 26:

Figure out if there is a gap between your expected expenses and your expected savings/income. If there is a gap, a financial advisor can help.

Week 27:

Make an appointment with a financial advisor and talk through all of the elements listed above to create a more detailed plan of action.

Week 28:

Let your financial advisor help you find the best ways to grow your wealth, now and over time.

Week 29:

Once you have a budget plan, consider doing a trial period on that budget while you still have income coming in.

Week 30:

Make a retirement timeline that outlines what steps you’ll need to take during the time leading up to retirement based on deadlines and your plans with your financial advisor.

Week 31:

Review your major legal documents and make changes as needed.

Week 32:

Review all of your insurance policies and adjust coverage as needed.

Week 33:

Review your estate planning and make changes as needed.

Week 34:

Start to allocate your extra funds toward retirement. For example, if you save money on a large purchase, put the difference into your retirement savings.

Week 35:

Take a week to learn about and research annuities.

Week 36:

Take a week to learn about and research stocks and bonds.

Week 37:

Take a week to learn about and research mutual funds.

Week 38:

Take a week to learn about the tax benefits of your current accounts and accounts that you are potentially interested in.

Week 39:

Use what you learned in the past few weeks to come up with questions or investment ideas to run by your financial advisor.

Week 40:

Talk to close friends and family members who have already retired and learn from their challenges or successes.

Week 41:

Do an audit of your personal paperwork to see if you have any pensions or 401ks from previous employers that you may have forgotten about. If you do, use those funds toward your retirement.

Week 42:

Start signing up for travel deals, alerts and other discounts. Getting in the habit of staying informed about travel costs will help you save money when on travel after you retire.

Week 43:

Start talking to your friends who have retired or will retire soon. If you have similar plans for travel or activities, you can use group rates to save money when the time comes.

Week 44:

Start to mentally prepare for the lifestyle changes you will face in retirement. If you are worried that the transition may be difficult for you after working for so long, research volunteer opportunities or groups that you could join to stay active in the community.

Plan to make fitness a part of your retirement routine. Planning for retirement can help you stay calm and enjoy your life.

Week 45:

Plan to make fitness a part of your retirement routine. Start taking time now to find out what physical activities you enjoy so you’ll be ready to stay healthy and active upon retirement.

Week 46:

Figure out some hobbies you enjoy. Beginning this process now will help your transition into retirement and allow you to make room in the budget for your hobbies.

Week 47:

Consider joining AARP or signing up for other services that offer discounts to retirees.

Week 48:

Make a list of all the things you’ve always wanted to learn if you had the time and get ready to start learning!

Week 49:

Start eliminating stress whenever you can. Retirement can be stressful, but all of the planning should help you keep calm and enjoy it.

Week 50:

Make the most of your time left at work. Enjoy your coworkers, mentor new employees and do what you can do to leave behind a legacy.

Week 51:

Treat yourself… within reason! Don’t go overboard on extravagant spending, but make a plan to celebrate your retirement with something special within your budget. You deserve it.

Week 52:

Continue to keep an eye on your retirement plan and make adjustments as needed. Your financial advisor can help with necessary changes along the way.

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