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Countdown to retirement

Individuals 09.28.2018 3 MIN READ


You’ve set your retirement date and it’s just months away. During this exciting time, it’s important for you to plan accordingly for a happy and secure future.


Navigating finances during the last six months of employment

Retirement is an important milestone that gives you the opportunity to spend your time doing the things you enjoy most. As the final days of your working career come to a close, you’ll want the confidence of knowing you’re financially secure and prepared to enjoy this time without undue stress associated with paying the bills.

In order to do that, you’ll need a plan. And you’ll want to use the period leading up to your retirement to set that plan into motion.

Read on for a guide to help navigate the final days of your career and experience all the joy that retirement has to offer.

Start with these questions

  • How much income will I need each year and how will that change with inflation?
  • How should I consider allocating my investments as I approach retirement?
  • If I have a pension, how much will it provide each month and how do my decisions impact my benefit?
  • Do I need a financial coach, and if so, have I arranged a consultation at this important stage?

Next, use the timeline below to conduct a thorough retirement analysis. You’ll want a clear picture of your assets and expenses so that you can plan accordingly.


Timeline: a guide to the final six months before retirement

Six months to retirement

Start with retirement income: calculate what your household has available, which includes you and where applicable, your spouse/partner. 

  • Social Security
    • What are your benefits at different ages (e.g., 62 to 67)?
    • When should you start collecting?
  • Pension (if applicable) 
    • When can you collect your benefit?
    • What forms of payment are available?
    • How much are the benefit options?
    • Have you thoroughly evaluated monthly payments vs. lump sum, where available?
  • Annuities
    • If you have a deferred annuity, how should you structure distributions?
    • If you do not have an annuity, would purchasing such a monthly income stream make you more comfortable?
  • 401(k)  
    • What are your options for taking distributions?
    • Have you evaluated available investment options?
    • Should you consider transferring all or some to an IRA?
  • IRAs and additional savings 
    • Have you evaluated available investment options?
  • All savings and investment accounts (401(k)s, IRAs, brokerage and bank accounts)
    • Have you reviewed your overall risk tolerance and compared it to your investment positions to make sure they align?
    • Have you considered consolidating/moving any accounts for ease of administration, availability of different investment options, fee reduction, etc.? 
    • Have you considered how holdings are positioned (cash, bonds, stock, etc.) in light of how these assets will help meet expense needs?
  • Identify your retirement expenses
    • Track your current spending
    • Project future expenses
    • Consider options for retiree medical insurance, including Medicare

Three months to retirement

  • Revisit your retirement income needs
  • Run final Social Security estimates
  • Evaluate Medicare to see if you or your spouse can apply
  • Review your life insurance coverage

One–two months to retirement

  • Work with your HR department to prepare for your last day of employment
  • Decide when to start collecting your pension (if applicable)
  • Consider when to start collecting your Social Security benefit
  • Make your final healthcare coverage decision 

After retirement

  • Contact your providers/administrators to review distribution options and timing

While not a comprehensive retirement guide, considering the list above will set you in the right direction as you approach retirement.

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