Are you considering that 2023 might be the year you “call it a day” for good? Or have you already decided it will be the year?
In either case, right now is the perfect time to start getting your ducks in a row, by taking care of some meaningful bits and bobs that will help round out your plans for retirement to give you both financial security and peace of mind.
You didn’t think you were done with “retirement planning” after you designated your asset mix and set up a contribution plan, did you? No way! There is still a whole lot to do to plan your retirement, from envisioning how you’ll spend your time, considering healthcare and future medical needs, and planning for a rainy day.
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So whether you are planning on retiring in Texas, or elsewhere, we’ve put together a month-by-month checklist of the most important tasks to complete and things to think about in preparation for a 2023 retirement.
Deciding what retirement means for you
Maybe you’ve already given some thought to where and how you’d like to spend your retirement, but now you need to make it official. Write a list of goals and wishes, and try to be as specific as you can.
Once you’ve made your list, order the items based on how they rank in priority. For example, if the most important thing you want to do in retirement is travel, that should be at the top of your list. If you’d like to travel some but really want to spend more time with your grandchildren, move “travel” further down the list.
There is no commitment to anything at this point, it’s totally normal for your list to change and evolve over the next year. Right now you’re just trying to get some realistic ideas about how you’d like to spend your retirement, so you know how to move forward with the rest of your planning.
Meet with a financial planneR
Make time this month to meet with your planner or advisor to take stock of your assets, discuss your retirement income and budget, and talk about your plans. Your financial planner can help you decide if you’re on the right track to retire in 2023 and be able to meet the goals you set in January.
Schedule an appointment now for this December to meet again to finalize everything, because you know once December arrives it will be much harder to find time not already set aside.
Making adjustments if necessary to retirement location, deciding when you will take Social SecuritY
After meeting outlining your vision for retirement and meeting with your financial professional, you have a pretty good idea of what you’ll actually be able to do in retirement.
If it seems like your plans were maybe a bit too ambitious given your proposed retirement income, you can go over your notes from January again with a different perspective. You might consider a different retirement locale, one with a lower cost of living, or look at other ways of cutting back expenses.
This is also an ideal time to consider when you’ll begin collecting social security. You can start collecting at age 62 (as of 2021), but the longer you wait, the more you’ll receive: Full retirement age is 67 and you’ll receive less if you start collecting earlier.
So if you begin collecting Social Security benefits at age 62, the amount you receive each month will be 30 percent less than if you’d waited until age 67.
The opposite is true if you can wait longer to start collecting Social Security. If you don’t file until you turn 70, your monthly check will be 8 percent higher - not just for now, but for as long as you receive benefits.
Review your plans for healthcare/insurance coverage
Schedule a dental exam, a well visit with your doctor, and any preventive medical exams or tests. For starters, this is to take advantage of your employer-sponsored healthcare and dental coverage while you still have it. You also want to go into retirement as healthy as possible, and proactively take care of any emerging issues.
Also, start thinking about your healthcare coverage once you’re no longer employed. Explore your Medicare options, think about whether you might need additional coverage, and consider long-term care insurance. You might also confirm whether you can continue to see your doctors and specialists with Medicare.
Don't forget an emergency fund
If you already have money set aside for a rainy day, you can take this month off!
If you don’t, know that having an emergency fund is as important in retirement - if not more so - than during your working years.
If the global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Most experts agree you should have at least three to six months’ worth of expenses set aside just in case, and once you’re on a fixed income being prepared for the unexpected becomes more vital.
Taking the time now to think about how you’d handle and pay for surprise expenses - from a defunct dishwasher to a hospital visit - will keep finances off your list of stressors during such experiences.
Deciding to work or not to work
The decision may be easy if you have to supplement your retirement income with a part-time job. But if you don’t have to work, will you want to? If you think you’re likely to bore quickly of the quiet life, having a job might be a nice way to keep having something to do, a reason to get out of bed, a purpose in life.
If you can, find a job doing something you enjoy like working at a garden center or a hardware store, it might be more fun than work!
Planning to nurture your network during retirement
You’ll need to stay socially active in retirement, which might mean getting creative about how to connect with people.
Some ideas for networking in retirement: Find a few groups of like-minded individuals on social media; join a local volunteer organization doing work you feel good about, or start a breakfast group of other recent retirees.
Creating a to-do list of retirement activities you want to do
Go back to your list of goals from January. This list should help inspire your list of retirement activities, which might include travel, education, volunteering, working, spending time with family, taking up a hobby, tackling projects you haven’t had time for, joining a group, and playing games or sports.
Retirement test drive
Take a few weeks, or months, to try out your proposed retirement routine, lifestyle, budget, and location (if you plan to move). It may seem silly - practice retirement? But a trial run will help you learn what works and what doesn’t while there’s still time to make changes, and it’s a nice way to ease yourself into what retirement will actually be like.
Tie up any loose ends
Can you cash out sick time/vacation time? Do you have FSA or HSA funds to spend?
When does your healthcare coverage expire? Do you have everything you need ready to switch to Medicare?
Do you need to roll over any retirement accounts or make any decisions about your pension?
Review your estate plan
Ensure your will and trust has current beneficiaries and contact info for them. Are your wishes and directives still relevant and accurate? Have estate tax laws changed, requiring any revisions to your plans?
Are you still happy with your selections for executor and power of attorney? Make sure your important people know where to find your important documents.
This is also a good time to review and update your life insurance policies.
Review your plans with your financial advisor
2023 is almost here! Thank goodness you scheduled this visit back in February!
Meet with your financial planner, and make sure everything is up to date, and you’re using current figures and estimates. This is where you find out once and for all if you have saved enough for retirement, and your financial advisor can help you figure out how you’ll deal if not.
At PAX Financial Group, we have more than 100 years of combined experience helping families retire in Texas – and nationwide – and one thing has become inherently clear: Everyone is different! What works for one person may not work for another. We will take the time to construct a custom retirement plan created just for you.
The team at PAX Financial Group is here to help with all of your retirement planning needs! Schedule a no-obligation conversation today.