In times of greater uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to work on your retirement plan—no matter your age. Whether you hope to retire in 5 years, 50 years or somewhere in between, there are things you can do now to work toward the retirement lifestyle you want.
Here are some of the actions you should consider, depending on your retirement timeline.
30+ years from retirement
- Align your short- and long-term goals. If you hope to retire early and travel the world, you may choose to live in an area with a lower cost of living now to help you save more. If your dream is to design and build your own home for your family to live in, you may choose to retire later so you can afford both your dream home and your retirement plan. Making a list of your goals and prioritizing them can help you live the life you want.
- Pay yourself first, each month. It’s important to get in the habit of saving for retirement. If your company offers a retirement savings plan [e.g., 401(k) plan], they may also match contributions you make up to a certain amount. Consider putting in at least enough to secure the match so you’re taking full advantage of the benefit. Making contributions through payroll deductions makes it even easier to save. Read more about different retirement accounts and the differences between saving and investing.
- Track your spending over time. By setting up a budget and tracking your spending, you’ll be taking steps to ensure that your spending aligns with your short- and long-term goals. You’ll also get a clearer view of what your expenses may be in retirement. If you have a mortgage now and you plan on paying it off before you retire, you’ll be able to subtract those monthly payments from your retirement spending needs.
20–30 years from retirement
- Evaluate your investment strategy. Understand your comfort level with risk and make sure your investments are appropriate for you. Be sure to check your investment portfolio at least once per year and make adjustments as your needs change. Learn more about how your risk tolerance is related to your investment goals.
- Review the tax implications. Tax laws have changed significantly in recent years. Any changes to tax law can make certain accounts more efficient savings vehicles and others less so. It’s important to consider this when determining which type of account to use.
10–20 years from retirement
- Plan the specifics of your retirement. Will you travel more? Will you be caring for a parent or child? What are your medical requirements? Will you be working? Getting these answers in order will help solidify your plan.
- Consider making catch-up contributions. At age 50, you become eligible to make additional contributions to your retirement savings accounts, known as “catch-up” contributions. If you feel behind on your savings or have extra money in your budget, you may want to take advantage of this benefit. Review the IRS annual limits on catch-up contributions to get started.
5–10 years from retirement
- Look at your options for health insurance. If your employer offers retiree health insurance options, you may want to look into the terms of the coverage. You should compare this with other available options, from the federal government or the Health Insurance Marketplace for your state.
- Reassess your risk tolerance. As you get closer to retirement, you’re closer to needing to use the funds in your retirement accounts. You might consider shifting them to less risky investments, depending on your tolerance for investment risk.
- Update your retirement budget. Take a hard look at your spending and determine where your expenses will change in retirement. Clothing or commuting expenses may be reduced while travel expenses may increase. It all depends on what you plan to do in retirement, and how different that is from your current lifestyle. You should also review your sources of income and the amount you have saved, making adjustments as needed.
Close to retiring?
If you’re even closer to retirement, we’ve created a resource specifically for you. Read more about how you can prepare in these uncertain times.
As you get started
Remember—there is no one-size-fits-all retirement plan. Your personal plan depends on your goals, your time horizon and the resources available to you.
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