The market declined last week, based on lowered consumer sentiment, concerns about banks, and worries about the debt ceiling negotiations. We’re still up year-to-date and, absent a major crisis, believe the market should be positive this year overall.
If you’re looking at the market and wondering if you can retire in a few years, there are some steps to take now. First, track your spending. This is different that making a budget, which is often unrealistic and doesn’t account for all of your spending. Start with what you currently spend, then adjust. Your dry cleaning or commuting costs may go down or disappear altogether. Your dining out and travel budgets may go up. It’s normal to see spending increase just after you retire, as you have time to indulge in hobbies, classes, and travel. Generally, spending declines over retirement, with the exception of medical expenses.
Insurance is a big factor in retirement. If you’re not 65, and you don’t have retiree coverage from your employer, budget $12,000 a year – per person! – for insurance. That doesn’t include co-pays and deductibles.
Once you know what you need for living, take stock of your investments. The very broad rule of thumb is that spending 4% of your investments is a sustainable distribution rate. Depending on how they are invested, it can be more nuanced than that, but it’s a good starting point.
If you’re going to stay in your home, are there renovations, improvements, or modifications to make now, while you are still working? Can you age in place in your current home? If you will want to downsize, speak with a realtor now to see what work needs to be done before selling. If you want to move in retirement, make a list of what you want in your new community. Do you want to be near a major airport, or large hospital system? Do you want oceans or mountains? Is public transportation important, or museums, or theater? Spend time thinking about what you want from the next 20 to 30 years, then identify cities that meet those requirements. Use the years before retirement to visit these cities.
Draft your bucket list and see if those things can be included in your spending plan. Consider when you want to begin Social Security. For some folks, taking it at retirement is the only option. For others, we can look to maximize the total amount received for a couple over their joint lifetime, or people may say they’d rather have more money when they are young and healthy, even if it means less money when they are in the 80’s.
Get your estate plan updated, and consider developing a care plan with your kids, friends, or other family members.
Finally, before you retire, figure out what you’re going to do all day without work to keep you busy. Are you going to learn something new, volunteer somewhere, or just sit on your couch watching TV? A successful retirement plan starts with finances, but it also needs to include health, social, and intellectual sections. The biggest determinants of a happy retirement are having enough money, being in good health, and having an active social life.
Your action item this week is to pull your credit report. At annualcreditreport.com, you are entitled to each of the three credit bureau’s reports once a year at no charge. Every four months, select one to review and confirm there are no problems.
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Investment advice offered through Great Valley Advisor Group, a Registered Investment Advisor.
All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.
The opinions voiced in this show are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which strategies or investment(s) may be appropriate for you, contact the appropriate qualified professional prior to making a decision.