Getting ready to retire: a checklist

 Two people sitting lakeside

If retirement is coming into view, it’s time to kick your planning into high gear. This checklist can help you plan ahead for things like Social Security, health care costs and how to go from saving to spending.

Sharpen your focus on retirement

  • Outline your vision for retirement and develop a strategy to reach it. Take into account how you'd like to spend your time – maybe working part time or spending time with family, volunteering, traveling and more.
  • If you still have a few years until retirement, ramp up your retirement plan contributions and savings.
  • Review your debt, considering if there is some you should pay down now versus carrying into retirement.

Determine your income needs

  • Estimate how much after-tax income you think you'll need and how many years you may spend in retirement.
  • Don't forget about other financial obligations such as caring for parents, supporting children and any remaining debt balances.
  • Expect your income needs to increase over time due to inflation.

Plan now for the cost of health care

Health care represents one of the largest expenses for retirees, so to estimate your income needs, you should:

  • Understand your Medicare options – costs and coverage – and enrollment timing.
  • If you’re leaving your job before age 65, determine how you’ll cover health care. Some options include:
    • Enrolling in your spouse’s medical plan
    • Obtaining insurance through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace®
    • Extending your employer’s coverage under COBRA
  • Consider funding a health savings account (HSA) on your own or at work, if your employer offers one.
  • Consider purchasing long-term care insurance.

Develop your income strategy

  • Consider when it's most advantageous to take your Social Security benefit, even though it will be just a portion of your retirement income.
  • Estimate your other income sources, such as pensions, part-time employment and other government benefits.
  • Determine an appropriate withdrawal strategy from your portfolio to ensure your money will last.
  • Position your portfolio to provide income for today and growth potential for tomorrow.
  • Consider annuities to supplement your guaranteed income sources.

Your financial advisor can partner with you to determine if your income strategy is sustainable and help to put your strategy into action.