I’ve been helping people retire successfully for over 35 years, and in that time I’ve learned there are a handful of things people need to be aware of and prepare for in advance to really set themselves up for retirement success. In my experience, the 9 best ways to prepare for your dream retirement are:
How much each person needs to save for retirement depends on their goals, but the people I know who retired successfully tended to have one thing in common: they were diligent savers. This was usually a result of sensible spending and living below their means rather than an extraordinarily high income.
Diligently saving, as early and often as possible, is imperative to a successful retirement. You can even turbocharge retirement savings using tax-advantaged retirement accounts like 401k’s, traditional IRA’s and Roth IRA’s.
Invest in a Taxable Account if Retiring Early
There are specific challenges facing those retiring early, not the least of which is fees on withdrawals on tax-deferred accounts before full retirement age. If you plan to retire early, you may need several years’ worth of spending set aside in a taxable account to live on while you wait to access your tax-advantaged accounts and claim Social Security.
Choose the Right Asset Allocation
The vast majority of an investor’s lifetime return is determined by the ratio of stocks to bonds in their investment portfolio.
In order to provide the rising income stream needed to fund multiple decades of retirement, people will likely need at least a portion of their portfolio dedicated to ownership in the great companies of the world (stocks). How much they need depends on their goals, life expectancy, and a multitude of other factors unique to each person.
Make sure to spread your money around to as many companies and countries as reasonably possible. That means diversifying internationally too!
By spreading your money around to as many different companies and countries as possible, you mitigate the risk of any single company or country materially impacting your financial future. You also ensure that you will own the handful of star performers that really drive market returns, giving you greater confidence that you will actually reap the investment returns you need to fund your retirement goals.
Prepare for Health Care Expenses
Planning for health care expenses is essential to retirement success. In my experience, it is likely one spouse will experience a spike in medical expenses later in life that should be accounted for in any retirement plan. You will also want to consider Long-Term Care expenses.
If retiring early, you may want to figure out how to cover the gap between the time you retire, and age 65 when you become eligible for Medicare. We often find people are able to self-insure for a few years while they wait for coverage without it costing them their early retirement plans.
Get a Financial Plan
The presence of a written financial plan is key to a successful retirement. A financial plan will explicitly spell out the goals most important to you and determine the path you will take to achieve those goals. How much you need to save, when you can retire, and how much you withdraw from your investments each year should all be informed by a financial plan.
You may want to seek the help of a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ when building a financial plan, as he or she will have studied all the areas of financial planning (including retirement planning) and will know how all the different pieces fit together into a comprehensive financial plan.
Understand Your Social Security Options
When you claim Social Security has an impact on how much you receive. If you delay, you receive a higher monthly payout, but at the cost of the payments you missed out on had you claimed sooner. You will want to have an understanding of how to balance these tradeoffs and incorporate Social Security claiming strategies into a comprehensive financial plan.
Plan How You Will Spend Your Time
In my experience, the people who ultimately go on to have the most fulfilling retirement planned in advance for how they were going to spend their time. You may want to develop a retirement activity plan to spell out exactly how you will remain physically and mentally sharp in retirement by participating in activities you enjoy.
Hire a Financial Advisor
Retirement planning is a huge responsibility, fortunately, there are plenty of financial professionals out there willing to lend a helping hand. There are many reasons you may need a financial advisor, but suffice it to say that different financial advisors can allow you to outsource the responsibility for keeping track of your finances and determining how to use your assets to provide your retirement lifestyle
There are financial advisors who, like Ruedi Wealth, specialize in retirement planning. There are even retirement-specific designations advisors may have; my son Daniel has his Retirement Income Certified Professional® designation, for example.
Want to talk to an advisor about how to prepare for your dream retirement? Click the link below to schedule a complimentary meeting with Paul A. Ruedi!