When you started saving for retirement, it probably felt like a million years away. But as time moves on, retirement continues to creep closer.
We’re not just talking about being financially prepared for retirement. Now’s also the time to consider the lifestyle you envision. What will you do with your time every day? How will you feel fulfilled and purposeful outside of work?
If you’re worried that you’re not quite ready, we have some great news: you still have plenty of time to figure it out!
Let’s focus on how you can prepare your finances over the next 10 years to reach your retirement goals and feel comfortable moving into your new season of life.
Estimate Your Long-Term Retirement Costs
We’ll be walking through a few expected costs you’ll encounter in retirement. Anticipating these expenses now can help you avoid surprises while sketching a high-level plan for achieving your dream retirement.
A great place to start is to think through the big picture regarding your retirement spending plan. At this stage, you likely won’t have all the details, but you’re close enough to retirement to know your day-to-day spending.
To get a reasonable estimate of your everyday expenses, look at your current rate of spending. You might find reviewing your past year’s bank and credit card statements helpful as it will give you the most accurate view of your current spending habits rather than trying to estimate.
While running through past spending with a fine-toothed comb can be unpleasant, it will serve you best as you near retirement to be honest and upfront about your spending habits. This exercise certainly isn’t meant to make anyone feel guilt or shame about their spending; instead, it gives them ample time to prepare realistically for a happy and comfortable retirement.
Once you’ve calculated an estimate, consider whether you expect your lifestyle goals to increase, decrease, or remain the same in retirement. Perhaps once you’re no longer working, you anticipate eating out less and cooking at home more. If that’s the case, “dining out” is one expense you may expect to decrease in the future.
Take this time to consider what you’d like to look your day-to-day to be in retirement, as this will significantly influence your spending strategy.
Family Obligations and Caretaking
When you reach retirement age, do you anticipate anyone depending on you physically and/or financially? Even if you don’t have school-age kids at home, your child may be in college or newly graduated.
While 18 is the legal age of adulthood, parents know that their children rarely become financially independent by then. In fact, around 50% of parents financially support their adult children (typically those between 18 and 25).1
If you think your adult child may need some financial assistance as they find their footing in adulthood, it’s perfectly fine to help them! Make sure you aren’t putting your own financial future at risk in the process. There are plenty of ways to include your child’s future financial needs in your planning, especially when we start planning early.
Similarly, caring for an older relative like a parent or in-law can impact your retirement readiness. This is something that, if possible, we should look into sooner rather than later. Resources, networks, and assistance programs may be available to help you financially and physically help care for an older relative.
Sources cite that the average 65-year-old couple will spend around $315,000 on healthcare costs in retirement.2 That’s a big chunk of change retirees must prepare for when establishing their retirement savings plan.
To help prepare, ask yourself questions like: Am I anticipating applying for Medicare as soon as I retire? Or will I rely on an alternative, like the ACA’s marketplace?
Do you anticipate having other healthcare-related expenses in retirement that you need to start planning for now? These costs could include renovations to make your home more accessible, equipment like wheelchairs or scooters, visits to specialists, etc.
While you can’t predict your future health status, you do have the ability to prepare for the unexpected now. Things like maxing out your Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions (if eligible), padding your emergency savings, and reviewing your insurance coverage are a few ways to prepare for healthcare expenses in retirement.
Speaking of insurance, having the right amount of coverage both now and in retirement is key to financially protecting yourself and your family.
If you haven’t thought about your coverage in a while, it’s likely time to conduct an insurance review. Do this by taking note of what policies you currently have, what’s covered under them, and whether you need to add or remove certain coverages.
For example, people transitioning to retirement sometimes find that they no longer need life insurance. Because their family no longer relies on their income to meet their needs, retirees may find that they could spend the money better elsewhere.
In terms of adding coverage, people in their mid-50s (about 10 years out from retirement) find this an ideal time to add a long-term care insurance policy. Considering nearly 70% of retirees are expected to need some form of long-term care in their lifetime, it can make sense to add this sort of coverage to your insurance lineup.3
Taxes are likely one of your current largest expenses, which probably won’t change in retirement. Take some time now to create a proactive plan that addresses your tax obligations in retirement.
First, know how all your anticipated income will be taxed (pre-tax, taxable, tax-free). Being mindful of the tax status of your withdrawals can help maximize your hard-earned savings.
Some income sources, such as Social Security, pensions, and annuities, will allow you to have taxes taken out automatically — similar to how you’d receive a paycheck from your employer. For any sources of income that do not have this option, you may have to make quarterly payments to cover the tax obligations.
Taxes are complex and unique to every retiree. Be sure to work with your financial professional and accountant to develop tax-focused withdrawal strategies for retirement.
Approach Debt With a Strategic Eye
If you have any outstanding debt, now is the time to look closer. In addition, it’s helpful to try and anticipate any debt you may bring on in the next 10 years. Doing so will help give you a better look at your potential debt balance when you retire.
Some additional debt could include:
- Car payment
- Child’s student loan debt
- Personal loan
- Credit card debt
- Medical debt
- Mortgage on a second/vacation home
- Business debt
Heading into retirement is not the time to add debt to your plate if you can help it. And the more debt you pay down now, the farther your savings will go in retirement. Make an extra effort to pay off your mortgage and other obligations before transitioning into retirement.
Double Down on Your Investments
Don’t ease up on the gas now! Continue to max out contributions to your 401(k), 403(b), or IRA. Don’t forget that participants over 50 have additional catch-up contributions they can make toward their retirement accounts.
Here are the limits for 2022:4,5
- 401(k) & 403(b): $20,500 and $6,500 in catch-up contributions
- IRA: $6,000 and $1,000 in catch-up contributions
If you can, consider putting extra funds toward investments like any ETFs, mutual funds, or stocks held in a taxable brokerage account and your HSA.
Plan Your Time Intentionally
We’re not just talking about being financially prepared for retirement. Now’s the time to consider the lifestyle you envision for yourself as well. What will you do with your time every day? How will you feel fulfilled and purposeful outside of work?
It’s important to remember that preparing for retirement is about so much more than money. Talk to your spouse about your values, hopes, and goals for your time together in retirement. Use this discussion to make a plan and establish a “mission” you can both follow.
It sounds a little silly, but doing so will help you stay motivated and avoid the loss of purpose that can come with leaving the workforce. Taking care of your mental well-being is just as important as your financial well-being regarding retirement.
Work With a Trusted Financial Partner
With 10 years out, you’re reaching a critical mile marker on the journey toward retirement. What you do to prepare now will significantly impact your ability to achieve your desired lifestyle and goals for retirement. If you require a trusted financial partner to start strategizing, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.
Partners in Financial Planning provides tax-focused, comprehensive, fee-only financial planning and investment management services. With locations in Salem, Virginia and Charleston, South Carolina, our team is well-equipped to serve clients both locally and nationally with over 100 years of combined experience and knowledge in financial services.
To learn more, visit https://partnersinfinancialplanning.com