Retirement planning is on a lot of people’s minds, but they don’t know where to start. It can be overwhelming reading blogs, watching videos on retirement or even listening to our podcast and trying to implement everything that you learn.
But today, we’re going to break down how to create a successful retirement plan by following four key components that we use when helping others secure their retirement.
4 Key Components of a Successful Retirement Plan
1. Retirement Financial Plan
Your retirement financial plan is the foundation of your retirement. If you don’t have a plan, the rest of the components don’t work. You’re likely familiar with coming up with a plan for saving for vacations or paying off debt, but a retirement financial plan is a lot different.
You’re likely not working and making income in the same way that you did in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and early 60s. We normally work with clients about 10 years before their retirement to put a plan in place that works for them.
Retirement Financial Plan Outline
A well-thought-out plan is the foundation of your retirement. You need to put your plan together, which will include:
What would you like your retirement to be? When do you want to retire? What lifestyle do you want to have? Do you want to travel? Do you want to have a second home? These should all be part of your goals.
You’ve worked hard, and you’ve acquired a lot of assets. You need to list all of your assets including 401(k), IRA, real estate and so on.
Will your assets be able to provide you with income? You’re not working, so you need income to cover your expenses. How much money do you need? You need to consider your basic cost of living, your wants and any legacy money that you want to leave behind or gift to others.
You need to determine how your assets will provide an income.
Income will also include things like:
- Social security
- Pension plans
Social security is a big one because there is a lot of talk that the program will run out of money. If you retire early, you’ll receive less money from social security which may or may not be acceptable for your retirement plans.
You need to do a full valuation of social security to find what’s right for you. Waiting until 70 for retirement may not be what you want to do.
There are a lot of “what if” scenarios which can be both good and bad. A few things that you’ll want to think about are:
- What if you planned to spend a certain amount of money and spend too much? What if you’re spending less than projected?
- What if you want to travel for the first ten years of retirement?
- What if long-term care is needed? Long-term care is very expensive.
- What if your spouse dies? Will you be financially stable?
A plan can really help you because it’s on paper and can be referred to time and time again. You can look over your plan and determine if you’re on track to reach your retirement goals or not.
Your plan doesn’t need to be massive – a smaller plan is great.
We start with this retirement plan because it leads directly into the next point.
2. Investment Strategy with Risk Management
You have assets and savings, and instead of letting your money sit, it’s important to invest it so that it can grow. Buy and hold strategies are great when you’re young, but as you get closer to retirement, it’s vital that you focus on risk management.
There’s a time to invest, and there’s also a time when you need to secure your retirement by pulling money out of the stock market or other investments.
We always run our clients through a risk conversation where we learn how much risk our clients are willing to take with their money. For example, let’s assume the following:
- You have $1 million in investments
- Your portfolio is down 20% – $200,000
A lot of people get nervous losing $200,000, so they say that they can better handle a 10% loss. Every individual is different. You need a portfolio that looks at your risk tolerance. The last thing many people want to do is lose 30% or 40% of their retirement overnight.
Other people have more than enough money stashed away, and they rather seek the highest returns possible because a 30% loss won’t impact their retirement.
Another thing to consider – taxes.
3. Retirement Tax Strategy
Taxes follow you forever, but there are ways that you can lower your tax burden. You need to think about your assets because there are a lot of different asset taxes:
For example, you can have $1 million in your 401(k), but you have to pay taxes on this money which impacts it significantly.
Roth accounts are tax-free.
Gains are taxed with some assets, such as dividends and not others.
You may want to convert to a Roth through a Roth conversion where you pay the taxes prior to converting and allow the account to grow tax-free.
It’s very important to spend time understanding how you can shield yourself as much as possible from taxes. A CPA or accountant can help, and we actually have these professionals on retainer so that if our clients have a question we can’t answer, the tax professional can.
4. Estate Planning
Finally, the last piece of the puzzle is your estate plan. You want to make sure that you have:
- Beneficiaries setup
- Beneficiaries named and updated
- A will in place
- Healthcare power of attorney
- Durable power of attorney
A durable power of attorney is very important because even if you’re married, there are certain retirement accounts that can only be owned by a person. Let’s assume that your wife is in a coma, and you rely on her accounts to pay your bills.
Without a durable power of attorney, you cannot access these certain accounts.
These are simple documents that everyone that is entering into retirement should have in place.
Just imagine if you had all of these four key elements in place for your retirement. Would you have peace of mind in retirement? A lot of people will say “yes.”
That’s what a solid plan offers – peace of mind.
Want to learn ways to secure your retirement? Listen to our Secure Your Retirement Podcast to get started.
Want to dive in and learn more about how we can help you secure your retirement? Feel free to schedule a complementary call with us. Just 15 minutes of your time can help you on the path to retirement.