“It’s never too early or too late to begin thinking about retirement and how you’ll transition from the working world into a new chapter of life,” says Wayne Vinson from The Village at Gainesville. “If you have the luxury of transitioning slowly, however, it gives you the opportunity to truly set yourself up for future success.”
Whether retirement is right around the corner, or if you’ve still got a few (or more) years before you consider the possibility, planning and getting ready should be at the top of your list. One study finds that on 18% of retired people have a written retirement plan. By checking out this pre-retirement checklist, you’re already ahead of the curve!
Wayne says that planning ahead doesn’t mean locking yourself into a rigid plan, either. “There are many smart things you can be doing that will be beneficial no matter how your life goes in the future,” he says. “For example, whether you choose to move into senior living or you plan on living in your current home for the rest of your life, there are financial items you should put in order to make sure that your quality of life remains high.”
Your Leisurely Pre-Retirement Checklist
1. Take inventory of your assets.
Before you do anything with regards to retirement, it’s essential to determine where you stand financially. Start by evaluating your current budget. List every debt and liability, all savings and retirement accounts, insurance policies, income streams and more. Don’t forget about assets like properties, vehicles and valuable possessions that affect your bottom line. By getting all these items written down, you’ll be better able to assess your financial plan and move forward accordingly.
The 4% retirement rule is a standby for a reason, and by calculating your investments and their yields will help you understand your budget once you stop working, and help you decide what to do about physical assets like your home. Spreadsheets are a great way to keep track of your budget and assets as you near retirement.
2. Get rid of all your debt–if you can.
In a perfect world, we would all enter retirement with a debt balance of zero. More than likely, your income will decrease when you retire, so any debt will become that much more significant. This is where planning ahead can really pay off. Take a look at what debts you have and make a plan to whittle them down and eliminate as much as possible prior to retirement.
Cheap refinancing costs mean that it’s fairly easy to rebalance your payment plans. Any other debt on the table is best to tackle one by one starting with the highest interest rate. While debt payments are never easy, once retired they can be much more difficult to keep up with sans biweekly check. Downsizing from a home you’ve had for years or more can help greatly in reducing–or eliminating–debt.
3. Budget for your retirement needs.
Before you retire, it’s a good idea to decide how you want to retire. Where do you want to live? What sort of lifestyle do you want to have? What will your income flow be? Will you continue working in some capacity? Would you like to travel more, volunteer your time or do something else with your time? By understanding the type of life you want to live, the better you’ll be able to budget for future expenses.
Many rely on the idea that people will use 70-80% of their pre-retirement income after they quit working. By combining this with the 4% rule listed above, you can see if your current investments and other income will cover what you anticipate to spend in retirement.
4. Find a financial advisor.
If you don’t currently have a financial advisor, now is the time to get one. Most people assume financial advisors are only meant to help in making investment decisions, but a good financial planner (particularly one who works in elder law or specializes in retirement) will be able to help you with all the items we’ve listed above and help you square away your situation in order to best maximize your finances now and in the future.
A financial advisor can also help you research different revenue streams as well as any government or tax benefits you may be eligible for. He or she may also be able to help square away costs and planning for future health care costs and other aging-related expenses.
5. Get your retirement paperwork in order.
Although no one likes to think about their ultimate demise, it’s something you can’t avoid. Instead of delaying your plans, take the initiative to put your estate and other paperwork in order. This will provide peace of mind and stability not only for you, but your family. The main things that you will need are an estate plan, a last will and testament and powers of attorney for both financial and health care matters. You’ll also need to establish beneficiaries for life insurance plans, retirement accounts and shared assets. Finally, you should also consider a living will that details information like funeral arrangements, plans for family heirlooms and the like.
At the same time, getting your paperwork in order means making sure all your documents are stored somewhere safe. Be sure to have personal data like your Social Security number, date of birth, bank account numbers, insurance policy numbers and digital passwords in a safe and organized place so that anyone who needs it can readily access it.
6. Research senior lifestyle options.
What sort of lifestyle do you want as you age? Do you want to remain in your current home, or would you prefer to move somewhere like a retirement community where you’ll have a smaller living space but far fewer tasks and responsibilities? The answer can definitely be “both,” but it’s important to remember that as you age, you will more than likely require additional assistance in order to live safely and independently. Long term care insurance options should be weighed to help offset the costs of changing needs.
If you’d like to remain in your current home, start planning for any modifications that might be needed so that you can age in place. If you’d like to move to a retirement community like The Village at Gainesville, start doing your research to determine what sort of place and location you’d like to live in. You can even tour your options and put your name down on a waiting list – it’s all up to you.
7. Downsize and declutter.
Let’s face it: most of us have way too much stuff in our home, thanks to a lifetime of gathering mementos, heirlooms and the like. No matter what you plan for the future, it’s beneficial to take stock of your possessions and start paring them down.
If you end up moving into senior living or a smaller space, you’ll need to get rid of items due to a space issue. If you remain in your current home the space may be all right, but getting rid of extemporaneous items will be a great boon to your family and heirs. This is a great time to hand off family heirlooms so your family members can enjoy them, and declutter your basement, garage and other spaces so you can better enjoy your current living situation.
“Whether you’re retiring tomorrow or ten years from now, there’s no downside to beginning to plan your transition,” says Wayne. “Anything you can do now will greatly help you down the road so that you can better enjoy this next phase of life with a carefree, worry-free attitude.”
Protect your legacy with a well-lived retirement at The Village.
Discover financial flexibility and convenient services and amenities at our senior living community in Gainesville, FL. Here, you can choose how to live each day and feel the security of care if your needs happen to change. Experience our active lifestyle before you set your plans in motion when you visit us for a personal tour.