Retirement planning is more than just putting money into an investment account and hoping you have enough money to retire. You need to plan your retirement, and you need to keep revisiting this plan throughout your lifetime.
If you’re getting closer to retirement, there are five main things that you can do five years before retirement to ensure you’re able to reach your retirement goals.
1. Gather Your Important Documents
You should start gathering all of your important documents to have them ready to overview before retirement. We’re talking about documents relating to:
- 401(k) plans
- Annuity paperwork
- Brokerage accounts
- Estate planning documents
- Social Security
If you’re going to have a pension, call your company and ask them about the pension plan and what you can expect to be paid at certain ages. You might be able to take a lump sum.
You’re going to need all of these documents before retirement, so gathering them early on allows you to see where your retirement stands five years out from your actual retirement.
Note: Social Security pays out different amounts depending on your age. You can check this information on SSA.gov, but generally, you can retire at 62, full retirement age and 70. Early retirement, or age 62, will result in a 75% reduction in your benefit amounts.
2. Get Real About Your Spending
There needs to be a link between how much you save for retirement and how much you plan to spend when retiring. Retirement planning should never be left to chance by simply choosing a random monetary goal that you would like to achieve.
You might be fine living off of $2,000 a month during retirement, while others easily spend $10,000 a month when they retire.
We recommend breaking your down spending into three categories so that you really know what your spending will look like in retirement:
- Essential income. Mortgages, food, bills, subscription services, gym memberships, etc.
- Wants. Travel, spending time with grandkids or family members, golf club or other subscriptions. This category is really what you envision for your retirement.
- Legacy/Giveaway. Charities, money left to family members, etc.
Try and factor in everything a good retirement means for you. You might need to cut back on some of your plans to reach your goals, but this is okay.
3. Write Down Your Goals
You know what your spending habits may look like, so now it’s time to really have some goals in place. The first year is fairly easy because you’re transitioning to a life without a 9-to-5 schedule. You’re free to do what you want, and this is an awakening feeling.
But the next few years are really where your retirement planning will be a success or failure.
Sit down today and write down:
- Where you want to live
- Where you want to travel
- Goals of things you want to do in retirement
Be as specific as you can when writing down your goals. You may want to spend time with grandkids or go to Italy for a year. Whatever your goals are, write them down.
4. Learn About Investment Strategies and Risk Tolerance
You’re five years out from retirement, and you’ll need to be very cautious about your risk tolerance. Now is not the time to invest in high-risk investments because you don’t have the luxury of being in your 20s and taking these risks.
Investing has two main categories:
A passive investor puts their money into a stock and holds it over the long-term, or the person can be investing through other investment vehicles where no active management occurs. In all cases, even if the portfolio is diversified, there is a level of risk.
Google may be going strong today, but it could be the JC Penny of tomorrow where stock prices in 2011 were $35 to $40 a share and are $0.11 a share today.
A strategy that shifts with the current markets. If the stocks are slumping, more precious metals may be purchased or stocks to hold your retirement fund’s money steadier, even if the possibility of returns may be lower. Managers will be working to mitigate potential losses and will be actively monitoring investments.
Risk tolerance changes, and you may not be able to afford risking 40% of your retirement before retirement begins. Educate yourself on your risks and the strategies you can take to lower them.
5. Come Up with an Income Plan
Retirement planning needs to be put down on paper. You need to think about:
- Long-term care
- Home repairs
- New car purchases
When your plan is well-developed, you’ll have “what if” scenarios in place that you can follow during retirement. It seems like a lot of work, but an income plan can give you peace of mind in knowing that you can confidently leave the workforce and finally retire.
Whether you plan to retire five years from now or 20, you don’t have to go at it alone.