You’ve been working hard toward retirement, and by taking a few last steps, you can help ensure you’ll be on the right track in your Golden Years. If you’re nearing the end of your career, here are four steps you can take now to get your finances ready.
1. Calculate your retirement needs.
If you want to be able to maintain your current standard of living in retirement, you should understand whether you will have enough income. Calculate how much you’ll receive from all sources, such as Social Security and pensions, and figure out how much you’ll be withdrawing each month from your IRA or 401(k). If you do not have enough income to maintain your standard of living, you might have to prolong retirement until you have enough funds, supplement your income with a part time job, lower your standard of living, or all of the above.
2. Make a plan for health care costs.
A 2014 study from Fidelity Benefits Consulting reveals that a 65-year-old couple retiring this year will need an average of $220,000 to pay for healthcare costs through retirement. It’s important to figure out whether your retirement savings will be enough to cover your monthly bills plus your healthcare costs.
According to AARP’s Health Care Costs Calculator, a single 55-year-old female in perfect health who plans to retire at 65 and live to age 85 may need about $163,000 to pay for healthcare costs. Medicare will cover roughly $98,500, but the rest—more than $64,000—will have to come out of the retiree’s pocket. If the retiree’s health changes and she develops high blood pressure, for example, her total costs could increase to more than $188,000. With Medicare only covering about $118,000, she would be left to come up with more than $70,000 out of pocket to pay for healthcare costs.
Medical bills are one of the largest causes of bankruptcy, and medical bankruptcy doesn’t just happen to the uninsured. There are many people with health insurance benefits who still wind up filing for bankruptcy. You can help avoid this situation by using an online calculator to project your healthcare costs. You also need to consider whether you can save enough before you retire to make up a shortage in your savings, if one exists.
3. Review and update your legal documents.
A common misconception is that estate planning is just for the rich and famous, but anyone can become physically or mentally unable to manage his or her affairs. Getting help from an attorney to plan for incapacity is something you might want to consider. Additionally, laws frequently change, so you may find it worthwhile to sit down with an attorney who specializes in estate planning. He or she can help you draw up your basic estate planning documents.
Some of the documents you’ll need are: a basic will, which indicates who gets what when you die (otherwise the state can decide); updated investment account beneficiary forms, which outline who will receive the funds in the accounts; and a healthcare power of attorney, which authorizes someone else to make decisions about your healthcare should you become unable to do so.
4. Decide on where you are going to live.
Are you considering downsizing or moving closer to family, friends, or loved ones? Before you make your move, consider the risks and benefits.
Selling your family home and downsizing might make financial sense, but you may not have enough room for overnight guests. Moving to another location might be great for tax purposes—some locales have very low state and local taxes—but if you are a social butterfly, you might miss your friends. Don’t forget to consider the healthcare options in your new location.
As you prepare to leave the workforce, the aforementioned four steps can help you start to assess where you stand financially. There are other considerations to factor into your decisions and planning, but these are good starting points.
Steve Repak, is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional, CFP® Board Ambassador, and financial literacy Speaker. He is also an Army Veteran and the author of Dollars & Uncommon Sense: Basic Training For Your Money. Follow him on Twitter: @SteveRepak