If you plan to retire in 2024, first of all, congratulations! It's a pretty big deal. You probably have a lot of ideas about how you want to spend your retirement, and that's great. But I'm sure you want it to be comfortable and financially secure. That's why it's a good idea to do the following five tasks right now.
1. Review your retirement plan
Even if you've checked it several times, it's a good idea to review your retirement plan again to make sure you have enough to cover your bills for as long as you think you'll live. Look at your retirement account balance and compare it to your savings goal. The two figures should be pretty close if you hope to retire soon.
If you haven't built up as large of a nest egg as you'd hoped, or if you feel that your earlier estimates about what your retirement expenses were going to be may have been too low, consider delaying retirement. This may not be ideal, but even waiting a few months can give you a chance to make significant additions to your savings. You could also transition to part-time work for a while and ease into retirement more slowly.
2. Plan for Social Security
Though it would seem like the natural move, you don't have to claim Social Security immediately upon retiring. The longer you delay taking your benefits (until you turn 70, at which point you stop accruing delayed retirement credits), the larger your monthly checks will be. Waiting to file could ultimately mean you collect a greater total amount from the program over your lifetime as well, but that will depend on how long you live.
If you're not already taking Social Security, think about when you plan to sign up. If you log into your personal my Social Security account through the government program's website, you can use the calculator it provides to estimate how much you would get per month based on various filing ages. Use this information to inform your decision about when to file, and to plan your monthly retirement budget.
3. Plan for health insurance
Healthcare costs also play a huge role in our retirement budgets. If you're 65 or older, be sure to check out Medicare plans for 2024 before the open enrollment period ends on Dec. 7, 2023. Decide whether you'd like supplemental health insurance as well.
If you're going to retire while you're still too young to apply for Medicare, be sure to have a backup plan for health insurance coverage. You may have to purchase your own plan. Or if your spouse is still employed, you may be able to rely upon their health insurance.
4. Review your investments
When you're this close to retirement, you don't want to risk seeing your nest egg shrink substantially due to a market downturn. Take a few minutes to review your holdings to ensure your asset allocation suits your risk tolerance.
It's especially important to make sure you're not being too aggressive. A common rule of thumb is that the percentage of your portfolio dedicated to stocks should be equal to 110 minus your age. So, for example, a 60-year-old would be advised to have 50% of their portfolio in stocks (110 – 60 = 50), and the other 50% in safer investments like bonds. This gradual risk-reduction strategy may limit your portfolio's growth potential, but it will also reduce the impact a market crash could have on your retirement portfolio during the years when you'll be actively using it to cover your expenses.
5. Plan annual check-ins throughout retirement
Even if you do your best to prepare for retirement beforehand, unexpected things will happen. It's almost inevitable that you will at times have to adapt your retirement income strategy on the fly. It's important to schedule regular check-ins with yourself throughout your retirement to see how you're doing financially. These will provide ideal opportunities for you to make small course corrections as needed to help your nest egg last as long as possible.
You should perform these check-ins once or twice a year, as well as in the wake of any serious financial shake-up, such as a huge medical bill or a major downturn in your investments. These check-ins don't have to take long, but knowing precisely where you stand can help give you confidence that you're doing all you can to remain financially secure for the rest of your life.
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