Since retirement planning is our specialty here at AgingOptions, we’re always intrigued by articles with titles like “5 Things to Do Now to Get Ready for Retirement.” Often these articles offer advice that smacks of “too little, too late.” But this article from a recent issue of the Washington Post with that very same title includes some suggestions we think are worthwhile, especially for those who are five to ten years from retirement – and feel woefully unprepared.
The Post article, written by columnist Rodney Brooks, says that if you feel like you’re way behind in your retirement planning, “You probably are, [and] you are certainly not alone.” Brooks quotes an all too familiar statistic from the National Institute on Retirement Security that says that fully one-third of Americans in the 55-65 age group have nothing saved for retirement. Whatever your circumstances, continuing to deny reality is clearly a poor strategy: even if your plans need an overhaul, the sooner you start to deal with your actual circumstances the better you’ll feel and the more prepared you’ll be.
So here are some suggestions from Rodney Brooks of the Washington Post. As you read these, bear in mind that seeking out unbiased professional advice will be absolutely essential in getting your retirement plan on track. Here at AgingOptions we have a truly comprehensive approach to offer that we know you’ll be excited about. But first, what are five steps you can take right away to help you formulate your plans for retirement, even if you feel unprepared?
First, says the Washington Post article, start with a truly honest self-assessment. “Figure out where you are in retirement preparation,” says Brooks. Depending on your age and when (and how) you hope to retire, it may be time to make some important changes in lifestyle, boosting savings and trimming expenses. Start by deciding exactly where you are in the retirement planning and preparation process, and – once again – be completely honest with yourself. To reiterate, here’s where professional advice can really help.
Next, says Rodney Brooks, plan your retirement budget. This may seem like a daunting task, but if you’ll contact us here at AgingOptions we can help you outline your likely spending patterns. Will you really be able to afford the travel you hope to do? What about health care costs and property taxes and all those other inescapable living expenses? By painting a retirement picture that includes a realistic budget, you’re increasing the odds that your dreams can become reality.
Third, if you’re still working, schedule a meeting with your Human Resources Department. Don’t wait until the last minute, especially if you work for a big firm, because some things like pension decisions and medical benefits take time to plan. If you expect to retire before Medicare eligibility at age 65, a critical question is what health care options if any will be available to you through your employer. Having that conversation now reduces stress later.
Two more suggestions from the Washington Post: First, think about how you will spend your days after you retire. People who consider retirement as the “finish line” are making a mistake, writes Brooks. Failure to think about your lifestyle after you quit working sets you up for boredom and dissatisfaction. Second, make a decision about your mortgage. The prevailing myth in America is that a mortgage is always good because it provides a tax deduction, but this may not be true for you. The Post article quotes a San Francisco financial manager who advises, “As you approach retirement, sit down with your CPA and ask how much of an impact on my tax bill does the [mortgage] deduction have. You may be surprised by how little impact it actually has.” You may decide to pay down your mortgage, because “At the end of the day, debt is still debt.”
Whatever you do as you plan for the future, don’t go it alone. The Washington Post says that “The most important thing is to have a team in place — your financial professional, your tax professional and your legal professional. Before you take that first step, consult your team.” We agree, and we hope you’ll consider making the retirement professionals at AgingOptions part of that team. It would be an honor to assist you as you plan for the future you’ve dreamed of. We will help you craft a retirement plan that can allow you to face the future with confidence, protecting your assets in retirement while helping you avoid becoming a burden to those you love. We call this type of plan a LifePlan. With your LifePlan in place, you’ll be able to combine your financial strategy, your healthcare needs, your legal preparations, your family relationships and your housing preferences into one comprehensive blueprint. Imagine the peace of mind that will provide for you and your loved ones!
To learn more about this unique approach to retirement planning, we invite you to attend a LifePlanning Seminar soon. These information-packed sessions are offered at no charge. You’ll be excited to learn how stress-free and how rewarding retirement planning can be when it’s done right! For dates, times and online reservations, without obligation, click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website, or call us during the week and we’ll gladly answer your questions.
(originally reported at www.washingtonpost.com)