What's the Plan? Questions to Ask Yourself About Retirement
March 26, 2014 | Your Finances
Though many aspects of the economy are beyond your control – like home prices and market fluctuations – there are still steps you can take to strengthen your financial position. One is to look at your retirement goals and be sure you are doing what’s necessary to achieve them. It starts with a plan.
Focused Answers Help You Prepare
You know you need to save for retirement and may be off to a good start. But have you stopped to imagine what you want your life to be when you retire, or how much you’ll need to pay for it? Whether you expect to retire in the next few years or decades from now, the best way to be well prepared is to take time to think through the specifics.
Retirement planning isn’t just about saving what you’ll need to be financially secure; it’s a lifetime process to build the framework for an important chapter in your life. A financial professional can guide you in defining the retirement that fits your unique desires and in creating a plan designed to achieve it.
Ask yourself these key questions as a starting point to creating or fine-tuning your retirement plan:
1. What Do You Want to Do in Retirement? List the activities you’d enjoy, things you want to learn or places you’d like to visit during retirement. What do you see yourself doing daily, monthly or yearly? How might these activities differ in the first 10 years of retirement, the second 10 years and beyond?
2. Where Do You Want to Live? Answering this question will help you to estimate the living expenses you’ll need to cover as part of your plan.
3. What Does Retirement Mean to You? Some people imagine living in retirement as a time to rebalance priorities, spend time with family, enjoy a hobby or give back to the community – what about you?
4. What Does Financial Security Mean to You? What do you need to be comfortable in your retirement – lifetime income strategies, funds to cover possible risks, the ability to leave a legacy?
5. What Are the Risks to Pursuing Your Goals? What concerns you about retirement? What would you do to address risks that you may face? Your retirement plan will incorporate ways to manage risks including longevity, legacy, market, inflation and taxes, health care and long-term care.
6. How Will You Pay for the Retirement You Want? How much money will you need to be able to live the life you imagine? What assets and resources might be available to support your retirement? What income streams can you plan for that will cover your fixed expenses as well as discretionary spending you want to plan for?
Considering these questions and visualizing the specifics of your retirement will help you to better understand the elements you need to plan for and the costs that may be involved. Don’t hesitate to discuss your thoughts with others to hear their points of view – this will encourage friends and family in their retirement planning and help you get ideas you might want to apply to yours.
If you have a spouse or partner, be sure to talk about how your lives might change during retirement – as individuals and as a couple – by considering questions such as:
- What Does the Change from Working to Not Working Mean to You? How will you fill the time that you previously devoted to your work and commute?
- What Does Your Day Look Like? What will you do together and apart during retirement?
- How Will It Feel to Live a Retirement Lifestyle? Consider giving your desired retirement a test drive by spending one or two weeks doing what you would plan to do once you retire.
Whatever your age or experience, visualizing retirement and defining what you want from this chapter in your life is the first step to accumulating what you need. A financial professional can help you in this lifelong process.