Steps in Retirement Planning
Save Money in an IRA and/or a 401(k) - If you work for an employer with a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, take advantage of it. Have your employer withhold some of your pretax income and put it towards your retirement. Some corporations will even match the donations of their employees, which means you will be able to accumulate wealth twice as fast!
The younger you are when you start saving, the better off you will be when you finally stop working. However, even if you are in your 50s when you start, you may still be able to put aside 10 to 15 years worth of savings, which could make a huge difference in the quality of your retirement.
If you are self-employed or do not have a 401(k) or 403(b) plan where you work, save money in an IRA instead. You can even have both, if you have enough excess income. However, if you save too much money, not all of it may be tax free. It is still beneficial to save as much as you can towards retirement.
Talk to a Financial Planner about How to Invest Your Savings - If you are in a 401(k) or 403(b), your employer may give you a menu of mutual funds, tell you to pick one or two, and that is where they will invest your contributions. The same thing could happen with an IRA, if you decide to set up an automatic withdrawal and investment program. Most of us could use a little help in choosing the best investment plan, however. It will probably be worth your time and money to talk to a certified financial planner or investment advisor representative. Get their recommendations on how to invest your savings for growth when you are young, and for income when you get ready to retire. Be sure to diversify your investments so you do not have too much money in one type of fund or investment.
Pay off Your Debts As You Approach Retirement - Nearly everyone will have a more comfortable retirement if they keep their debts to a minimum after they retire. The closer you are to retirement, the more important it is to have a plan to eliminate all your student loans and credit card debts. If you can also pay off your home and car, you are going to have a lower cost-of-living once you are living on Social Security and your savings.
Get an Estimate of Your Future Social Security and Pension Income - Everyone should periodically get estimates of how much they can expect to receive in the future from Social Security benefits and any employer funded pensions. Everyone needs to know how much income they can expect to have after retirement. You also need to understand how much you could increase your income by postponing your retirement by a few years.
Come Up With a Retirement Budget - Estimate how much it will cost you to live after you retire. If you have a large gap between your current expenses and anticipated income, investigate the steps you can take to reduce your expenses by downsizing, for example, and how you can increase your income by taking steps such as postponing your retirement age. If necessary, you may also consider getting a retirement job which will help increase your income. It can be a fun job, as long as it produces enough income to make your feel more financially secure.
Talk to Your Financial Planner or Advisor about Turning Your 401(k) or IRA into Income - Once you are ready to retire, find out how much money you can withdraw from your IRA and still be assured you will have enough money to last the rest of your life. Discuss the 3 percent withdrawal rate, dividend funds, annuities, bonds and other investment vehicles which will produce an income. You may want to invest in a variety of income producing products to give you the most financial security.
If you plan carefully and realistically, you can feel confident you are financially well-prepared for retirement when the time comes.
Watch for my book, Retirement Awareness, due to be released by Griffin Publishing and Watering Seeds in the Fall of 2017. It will go into more detail about how to prepare financially for retirement.
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