Retirement Blueprint Part 1: Think Ahead 

Whatever your age or priorities, you know that saving consistently over time is essential to reaching your retirement goals. But what exactly will that retirement plan look like? How much might it cost? When and how will you know you are ready to retire? Considering these questions sooner, rather than later, can help you get on track toward a comfortable retirement.

What Does Retirement Mean to You?

It may be the furthest thing from your mind or all you think about, but it is never too soon or too late to imagine what your life might be like in retirement. Many people reach retirement age ready for a change . . . whether to rebalance their time, explore new interests or renew a sense of purpose. The more you visualize your future, the more likely you will achieve your vision with a retirement uniquely suited for you. As you think about the following, jot some notes as the first step toward creating your blueprint for a financially secure tomorrow.

What Do You Dream About?

Even if you are focused right now on covering daily needs with a limited budget, it’s still important to dream big for the future. What would you want to do in your life if you had the means? What activities would you like to pursue? What do you want to accomplish or explore? Put these dreams on your “future” list and consider them in your retirement plan.

Where (Literally) Do You Want to Be in 20 or 30 Years?

Are there places you want to visit? Other countries you would like to see? Somewhere else you might enjoy living? Do you see yourself in a different home or neighborhood? Ponder the places and living arrangements you might enjoy as you collect ideas to investigate further.

How Would You Like to Spend Your Days?

Retirement traditionally means having more leisure time, and that can be a major change from working 40 hours a week. Think of it as a chance to build a new framework for your life. You can create income from an activity you love, delve into a hobby, travel, volunteer, or spend time on all of those things. Consider activities that give you joy, support your physical and emotional health, and help you connect with others.

When is the Best Time for You to Retire?

The timing of your retirement will affect the resources you will need, the lifestyle you can support and, ultimately, your long-term financial security. The longer you work in some capacity, the more you can accumulate savings and increase future Social Security benefits. Your financial representative can help you understand how the timing of your retirement will affect your finances for both the short-term and long-term.

What Challenges Could Get in the Way?

Protecting against potential challenges will help preserve your assets and achieve the retirement of your dreams. Your financial security plan will consider market forces, inflation and taxes. You also need to consider the possibility of providing care to other family members and insure against big-ticket issues such as health care costs and long-term care expenses. The long-term care calculator can help determine what costs might be in your state, and your financial representative can help you design the plan that best suits your needs.

What Legacy Do You Want to Leave?

Think about how you want to be remembered. Do you want to create memories with your children and grandchildren through shared experiences or vacations? Support their educations? Leave an inheritance? Be remembered with your favorite charity? Life insurance is one option through which a legacy can be fulfilled.

Bottom Line: How Much Will You Need?

With each unique lifestyle choice and plan you make, identify the possible costs that would be involved and compare them to your current income and spending patterns. With help from your financial representative you can identify a target retirement savings goal and plan how you can reach it over time. Use the retirement savings calculator to evaluate your current assets and determine what you need to save from here.

Just as you create your own retirement plan, you also define success and set the stage for achieving it. Thinking about your retirement now, and creating a plan that will help you focus on the path forward, will bring you one step closer to making your vision a reality.