4 Things You Must Do Before You Retire

Many workers look forward to retirement, and rightfully so. After all, you’ve worked hard your entire life and are finally getting an opportunity to kick back, relax, and spend your time doing the things you love.

But before you pull the trigger on retirement, there are a few key moves you’ll need to make to ensure that you’re adequately prepared. Here are four you can’t afford to ignore.

1. Create a new budget

If you’re already in the habit of following a budget, you’re doing the right thing for your finances.

That said, your expenses are likely to change once you stop working, so to continue using the same budget in retirement would mean doing yourself — and your finances — a disservice.

Before you retire, create a new budget that maps out the expenses you’ll face based on your new schedule and lifestyle.

Maybe you’ll no longer have to pay for a train pass to work, but will instead spend $300 a month on a country club membership.

Similarly, your dry cleaning bills might mostly go away, but you might spend more on hobbies since you’ll have more time to pursue them.

Either way, make sure you know where your money will be going once you retire, and that your various income streams can support the lifestyle you’re planning to lead.

2. Assess your savings

If you’ve been putting money aside for retirement throughout the years, your IRA or 401(k) balance might seem like a pretty impressive number. But before you get caught up in that figure alone, see how much yearly income it actually translates into.

For years, financial experts have said that if you withdraw roughly 4% of your nest egg annually, your savings have a strong shot at lasting throughout retirement. But if you’re sitting on a $300,000 nest egg, that’s only $12,000 a year to work with.

Furthermore, while 4% has long been the standard for retirement plan withdrawals, you’ll often hear that these days, it’s too aggressive a rate given the fact that seniors are living longer and that lower-risk investments like bonds aren’t paying what they used to.

Therefore, if we take that same $300,000 balance, which might seem adequate at first glance, and apply a 3% withdrawal rate, you’re looking at just $9,000 a year of income.

Of course, your personal savings number might well exceed $300,000, and you might have other income sources, like a part-time job, at your disposal.

The key, however, is to know what sort of cash flow your nest egg is likely to produce on an annual basis, and make sure it’s enough. If it’s not, you might consider extending your career to allow for some extra savings.

3. Understand your healthcare needs

Healthcare is the one expense that tends to climb for seniors during retirement — yet in a recent study, only 12% of workers said they were taking steps to prepare for it. According to HealthView Services, a cost projection software provider, the average 65-year-old man today will spend $189,687 on medical care throughout retirement, while the average 65-year-old woman will spend $214,565.

Of courses, these are just averages, which means that while your personal total might end up being less, it could also end up being more. That’s why you’ll need to read up on healthcare in retirement in advance and be strategic about keeping your costs down.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the aforementioned figures don’t include long-term care. Since 70% of seniors 65 and over will need some type of long-term care in their lifetime, you must plan for that expense as well.

That means not only learning about the costs involved, but securing insurance to help defray them later on.

4. Figure out how you’ll spend your time

You might think the idea of having your days to yourself is appealing, especially coming off a rigorous work schedule. But once you find yourself with no structure whatsoever, you may come to find that you’re not only bored, but frustrated that your new existence isn’t as fulfilling as you thought it would be.

That’s why it’s so important to go into retirement with a plan as to how you’ll spend your time.

The last thing you want is to fall victim to depression because you’re having difficulty adjusting to your new lifestyle, so figure out whether you’ll pick up a new hobby, take classes, or volunteer to keep your mind engaged.

Retirement is an exciting milestone, but it can be a stressful one if you don’t prepare for it. Check these key items off your list, and you’ll be more likely to enjoy your golden years to the fullest.

— Maurie Backman

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