List-making is a healthy activity. Research shows that checklists reduce anxiety and increase productivity. A Retirement in America Survey revealed that “56% of Americans lose sleep thinking about retirement,” with anxiety being the leading cause of that sleep deprivation. A retirement checklist can help you turn off anxious thoughts by enabling you to identify problems, make decisions, and feel organized. Whether you will be retiring in three months, three years, or three decades, it’s never too early to start getting ready.
- Time: No one can predict precisely how long retirement will last because it ends in death. It’s best to plan for a long life, at least to age 95.
- Spending Money: According to a 2020 Schwab 401(k) Study, the average 401(k) participant believes he or she needs to save $1.9 million for retirement. How much money will you bring on your retirement journey? Test out the CFO Center to see if you will have enough. What sources of income will you have (pension, social security, trust, etc.)? To get an estimate on your future Social Security benefits, visit www.ssa.gov.
- Expenses: Will expenses decrease (such as clothing, commuting, etc.) or increase (such as medical, travel, etc.) when you retire? Will you move or stay in your current home? Make a budget for your current lifestyle, so you know how much to plan for in the future.
- What’s the difference? After you calculate the amount you have (spending money) and the amount you need (expenses), calculate the difference. If your costs exceed your spending money, you have a gap.
- Funding the gap: The amounts below are the maximum contributions for 2021. But even small amounts can make a big difference in the long run.
- Contribute up to $19,500 to your employer-sponsored qualified retirement plan, e.g., a 401(k) plan.
- Contribute up to $6,000 into a traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or Roth IRA.
- Catch-up: If you are age 50 or older, you can contribute an additional $1,000 to your IRA and $6,500 in your employer-sponsored retirement plan.
- Pay off debts: The burden of loans can weigh heavily in retirement, so make a plan to pay down large bills as soon as possible. Avoid taking on new debt that could carry over into retirement.
- Have adequate protection: Determine what kind of insurance you need. Paying policy premiums transfers excess risk to insurance companies. In return, you gain peace of mind and potentially costly savings down the road.
Planning for retirement does not have to feel like an overwhelming process. It can actually be fun. The team at Hurlow Wealth Management is here to help. For nearly three decades, we have helped clients find clarity, feel confident, and achieve comfort in retirement. Schedule a FREE consultation today.