It’s amazing how busy retirement can get, especially if you’ve filled your calendar with all the things you dreamed of doing when you were done working—like traveling, taking up new hobbies and spending more time with your grandchildren.
But to make sure you can continue to enjoy the things that are important to you, it’s important to stay on top of those savings you worked hard for. Financial inventory may not sound like a fun summer activity, but midyear is a good time to take stock of where you stand.
Here’s a list of things to check in on before the end of the year to help make sure you can keep living the retirement you want and preserve what you’ve built.
Revisit your retirement goals
While you were working, it’s likely you thought about what not working would look like. What did you see yourself doing? Where were you living? Does your preretirement vision match the life you are living now—or has it changed? Checking in on your priorities will help inform your financial strategy.
Evaluate your spending
At this stage of your life, it’s more important than ever to keep a close eye on your monthly expenses. You’ll want to make sure that you’re sticking to the budget you set so you can make your money last. Talking with a financial advisor can be helpful here, too—they’re up to speed on how your money will be taxed and can guide you in getting the most out of your retirement savings.
It’s important to both track what you’ve spent and look forward to what you’ve got coming down the pipeline. Don’t forget to include big-ticket expenses, including medical procedures or planned travel, as you forecast what you’ll need for the rest of the year.
If you find you’re over budget, you’ll likely want to pull back on what you’re spending or add another source of income, such as an income annuity. You might consider other creative ways to find income, too, like downsizing your home.
Understand your required minimum distributions
You may have already started withdrawing from a retirement savings account like a 401(k), 403(b) or IRA, but if you haven’t, you’ll be required to start by April 1 following the year that you turn 72. If you don’t start taking these required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your retirement accounts, you could be subject to penalties or added taxes, so it’s important to keep that deadline on your radar. If you are due to take RMDs, calculate the total amount you’ll need to withdraw and make sure that you take that amount by the end of the year. After taking a look at your budget, if you’re finding you need a bit more monthly income, retirement savings account distributions can be an additional source to consider.
Keep your estate plan updated
Executors, trustees, medical powers of attorney—make sure you have people you trust in these roles so your estate is handled the way you’d like when you’re gone. As you add new grandchildren or spouses to the family, you’ll also want to keep your beneficiaries up to date. Taking time to review your wishes can help ensure that they match your current values. If you haven’t already, discuss your estate plan with your loved ones to make sure everyone is on the same page and prepared for what is ahead.
Actively monitor your portfolio
The state of the market can change significantly from month to month, so though you’ll want to do a deep dive into tracking investments at least once a year, checking in on your investments more than once a year is a good practice in retirement. Make sure your assets are allocated in a way that matches your appropriate risk level at the current moment so you can make changes if needed. If you’re not at your desired risk level, try rebalancing some of your investments to get closer to where you’d like to be.
Be strategic about giving
In meeting with your financial advisor, it could be a good idea to talk about charitable gift-giving strategies to maximize your income tax deductions. If you’re over 72, you could make charitable distributions from a qualified retirement account up to $100,000 per year that would satisfy RMDs and not count as income.
If you have a large estate, you could look into some current tax exemptions for transferring wealth. Historically high lifetime estate, gift and GST tax exemptions are set to expire in 2026, so it could be worth your while to take advantage of these now in case tax policies change.