Stephanie Schwenn Sebring

Get Organized, Before You Retire

The Connexus Top Ten List for Securing a Comfortable Retirement

senior couple1) Compare Assets Versus Liabilities. Assets include possessions of value, such as cash, real estate and investments. They also include items such as IRAs and, if you’re a homeowner, your home’s current value. Liabilities are debts and legal obligations and can include mortgage and car payments, credit card debt, and insurance payments.

2) Pay Down Debt. In a perfect world, aspire to head into retirement with zero debt. Pay off debt with higher interest rates first, and your mortgage last, since that probably has the lowest rate. The lower your debt, the more power you have over building your wealth.

3) Evaluate Life Insurance Needs.  Are you under-insured? That depends on individual circumstances. Many experts recommend purchasing life insurance 7 to 10 times your current annual income.

4) Consider Long-Term Care Insurance. Long-term care insurance pays for extended care; it can assist with a comfortable lifestyle without expending retirement savings on medical care. Just like other types of insurance, it varies in price and benefits.

5) Review Your Estate Plan. It’s imperative to possess an updated will, power of attorney, and advanced medical directive. To ensure your wishes are carried out, these documents will provide instructions stating who, what, and when someone is to receive something of yours – all with the least amount paid in fees and taxes.

Consider this from estateplanning.com:

  • A will provides instructions but does not avoid probate.
  • Jointly-owned property and assets that let you name a beneficiary are not controlled by your will. These types of assets usually transfer to the new owner or beneficiary without probate.
  • A revocable living trust is preferred by many professionals. It can avoid probate at death, prevent court control of assets at incapacity, bring all assets together into one plan, provide maximum privacy, is valid in every state, and can be changed at any time.

6) Write A Financial Plan. Sit down with a Connexus professional and plan your retirement goals. Analyze needs versus wants. We’ll help you to list the basics, first. Then you can prioritize luxuries (like hobbies, eating out, and travel). And start saving early… financial advisors recommend saving 10 percent of your gross salary for retirement.

7) Prepare Your Retirement Budget. Six months before you retire, calculate your monthly expenses. Realize that some costs may go down, such as food, fuel, and clothes; and others may increase, like medical coverage and travel expenses. Adjust your budget to accommodate for these changes.

Consider this from eHow.com:

  • Think about changes that will impact your budget, both positively and negatively.
  • Decide how much money you need to live comfortably. Don’t use your present salary as a guideline. Instead, think about the lifestyle you would like to have after you retire.
  • Think about payments or debts you will no longer have after retirement and plan your budget accordingly.  
  • Plan for a long retirement – at least 20 years.
  • Take taxes and inflation into consideration.
  • Start your plan as early as possible; re-evaluate within five years of retirement.

8) Decide How You Want To Live During Retirement. Envision the first six months of retired life. What will you be doing? It’s hard to imagine, but many people become bored after they stop work. You may decide to go back to school or start a new career, even on a part-time capacity. Consider interests, leisure, volunteer work, or activities that could impact your retirement funds. Finally, what do you need to flourish and grow? And, how much will it cost?

9) Bolster Cash Reserves. Consider opening up a line-of-credit to increase your cash reserves to cover at least six months of living expenses. Most workers should keep 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses in an emergency fund. According to U.S. News, you will need an even larger reserve after you retire. If you’re drawing income from retirement funds, keep enough money liquid to cover at least a year’s worth of expenditures.

10) Evaluate Sources Of Income. Review your strategy on what money to tap into first; typically it’s non-qualified money, such as money markets and savings accounts; tax-deferred funds second, like IRAs and 401(k) accounts; and, finally tax-free accounts, like municipal bonds. One of our financial advisors can help determine what makes sense. We can also help you to assess your risk tolerance and recommend strategies that will meet income needs during retirement.

Sources:

Chicago Tribune; US News Money; eHow Money; About.com (retirement planning); Bankrate.com; Estateplanning.com.

More Great Reads:

http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/On-Retirement/2012/01/26/increase-cash-reserves-in-retirement

http://www.estateplanning.com/What-is-Estate-Planning/

http://www.ehow.com/how_2080653_create-retirement-budget.html

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