How to Prepare for Retirement

Written by Posted On Friday, 29 March 2019 08:51

Retirement is a much-anticipated event marking the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another. For some, retirement is an eagerly-awaited occasion, while others prolong their career years. Regardless of which group one falls in, it's good to have a plan. While Social Security is still functioning today, its future is unclear with the potential for higher retirement ages or partial payouts in the future.

In order to make the most of your retirement, it's important to know where many Americans go wrong – and how you can avoid the common pitfalls in preparing for what comes ahead.

Addressing The Challenges in Saving

Saving for the future can be equal parts stressful and overwhelming. There are so many questions with so few good answers, especially for those without direct exposure to estate planning, financial management, or financial advising. How much money is enough? Will Social Security cover me? How can I calculate for the future? When should I retire? 

Several things can stand in the way of successful savings. Initially, many individuals or couples don't know how much they need. Some tend to underestimate, assuming what Social Security will provide will be good enough, while others simply and fail to plan at all. Additionally, it's hard to guess on retirement age. While some plan to work until 65 and not a day more, others hope to work to 70 or beyond, only to be sidelined by unsuspected illnesses or family troubles far earlier.

While there's no perfect way to know what's around the corner, there are steps you can take now to ensure financial security in retirement. 

Do the Math

Rather than shooting at a savings number blindly, do your best to estimate what you'll need. While the standard expert advice is to save an amount six times your take home salary at the end of your career, it's possible to be even more specific in identifying goals. Take advantage of the retirement calculators available online or set up a meeting with a financial advisor for a better breakdown of your spending habits and future plans. 

Automate Savings

If you're like most employed adults in the U.S., you likely get paid via direct deposit. While convenient in terms of paycheck delivery, direct deposit also offers another major benefit: automated savings. Instead of struggling to find leftovers at the end of the month, send a portion of your paycheck to a savings account every pay period. When money is sent to savings before you start spending, you'll learn to make do with the amount left over. If your employer offers a pre-tax savings option, like a 401(k), be sure to take advantage of this, too. 

Consider Selling Your Home

Consider downsizing now, before you enter retirement. If your real estate market is strong, your children have moved out, and you no longer need ample living space, selling your home and moving into a smaller house or condo can translate a real estate asset into liquid cash. In the future, it may not be so easy to sell your property if an urgent need for money arises.

Plan for Increased Cash Flow, Just in Case

It's easy to assume your expenses will decline in retirement, but that's not always the case. In fact, many new retirees spend more than they're used to when the burdens of employment are no longer a problem, ramping up the funds spent on eating out, entertainment, and travel. It's also good to budget for increased costs of healthcare, just in case. When planning savings, always err on the side of saving too much.

Continually Evaluate Spending

Take steps now to minimize spending and increase savings. Cut all unnecessary bills or expenses that you can live without, like cable television, home phone lines, excessive dining out, or fast food. A few small changes today can do wonders for you tomorrow, helping you to increase the cash you have available. You don't have to cut out everything that you like—just look for recurring expenses that don't bring you as much entertainment or enjoyment as they used to. 

Retirement is a bright new horizon of opportunity after years invested in work. With these tips, you can brace yourself for what comes ahead, ensuring you have enough in savings to maintain the independent lifestyle you deserve. 

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