Everyone deserves the retirement of their dreams. Retirement brings freedom for those who have worked hard—it’s also a huge lifestyle change that requires careful planning. Here are 13 things you need to have before you retire.
1. You need a plan.
Nobody wants to have to work through what should be their retirement years, which is why it’s so important to make a financial plan and stick to it. Define a target for your nest egg, then create a budget and stick to it. Ideally, this is something you’ll start thinking about long before you retire—it’s not optional.
2. You’ll have to do the math.
The last thing you want in retirement is constant anxiety about running out of money. Proper financial planning can help you stretch your money and alleviate stress before it begins so all you have to worry about is enjoying your freedom.
3. Budgeting is essential.
If you don’t have the income you were used to during your working years, you have less room to make impulsive purchases. Make a budget and stick to it.
4. Start saving early.
It is truly never too early to start saving for retirement. Don’t wait until it causes you anxiety!
5. Don’t assume you have forever.
Always expect the unexpected when it comes to financial planning. Starting as early as possible can give you a cushion in your retirement fund in the event you get laid off or fall ill.
6. Don’t plan to rely heavily on the government.
Though Medicare is meant to cover healthcare costs in retirement, it doesn’t cover everything. Expect rising healthcare costs as you age and plan accordingly.
7. Expect your healthcare costs to increase.
If you’re eligible, consider putting money in a Health Savings Account—this will help you save and grow your money, which is helpful when you’re entering years of your life that traditionally come with more health problems.
8. Don’t be afraid to invest.
Regardless of when you retire, your retirement fund may have to keep you afloat for 30-40 years. Be sure to add an investment to your portfolio that will help your money grow over time.
9. You need to understand the stock market (at least a little).
You don’t have to become an expert, but it’s important to know that trying to outsmart the stock market is a waste of time. It might not make you money every year, but if you let the averages play out, you’ll do better in the long run.
10. You need a will.
Don’t let state laws govern your estate, because it could turn into a disaster for your loved ones in the future.
11. Understand your Social Security benefits.
If you take your benefits early, they could be permanently reduced. Make a strategy and figure out what the best age to start withdrawing your Social Security benefits is. Try to have this strategy in place before age 62!
12. Keep your plan flexible.
Your retirement plan isn’t a road map you’ll never deviate from. Make sure your financial plan changes as your life changes.
13. Have a goal.
It’s important to begin with a goal in mind. Figure out what you want your retirement to look like, then create a strategy that will help you get there, including what you may have to risk or work through along the way.