If you’re starting to think about your retirement, there are some things you need to do to prepare. If you were taking a trip, you’d plan your itinerary, your wardrobe, and your finances. Retirement is your biggest and longest vacation that requires a lot of financial planning to make sure you have enough money to live comfortably.
Here are the seven most important things you need to do to plan a stress-free retirement:
1. Create a Budget
It’s important to know what your fixed expenses are and what your income will be. You don’t want any surprises. Start looking at your budget to find places you can cut back or eliminate. For instance, can you eliminate your monthly gym membership to work out at home or take walks in your neighborhood? Can you reduce your monthly cable or phone bill? Once you feel good about your expenses, take a look at your income (social security, pension, annuities, investments, etc.) and your savings to make sure your monthly and annual expenses will be covered by your income.
2. Consider Income Sources
In addition to your social security and pension, what other income will you have? It’s time to review your investment plan to see if you need to shift money around for a better return. It’s also a good time to start thinking about an additional income. Have you been thinking of starting a part-time home-based business in retirement? If so, now’s the time to start planning for it. You want to determine your start-up costs and start building your business plan while you’re still earning a regular income.
3. Eliminate Debt
The best way to make sure you’ll have enough money in retirement is to pay off as much debt as possible before you retire. Start budgeting now to pay off credit cards, mortgage, cars, and any personal loans you may have so that you’ll have more to live on when your income decreases.
4. Check Your Home
Assess your home for any major repairs. Do you need a new roof? Do your windows need to be replaced? Do you want to finally build that screened-in porch? If so, get these high cost projects taken care of while you’re still earning an income.
5. Assess Life Insurance
Take a look at your life insurance and make sure everything’s in good shape. It’s harder to get life insurance or increase the amount of insurance you have the older you get. Put your policies in place before retiring in order to keep the costs manageable.
6. Consider Long-Term Care Insurance
As much as you might not like to think about it, long-term care insurance is one thing many people need but don’t have. If you or your spouse become ill and need long-term treatment or care, the expenses involved can drain your retirement savings in no time. Long-term care insurance will help to cover medical expenses, at-home care, and facility care if you should need it.
7. Talk to a Planner
Even if you’ve always done your own financial planning, before deciding to retire, take some time to meet with a professional to get a big-picture view of your finances. They may see things you missed or help you find ways to increase your income or decrease your expenses. You don’t need to hire someone to manage your funds, just schedule a one-time appointment for advice and guidance.
Once you’ve taken care of your financial needs, the only left to plan is how you’re going to spend your days!