What To Do When Retirement Is Near

Where are you on the retirement timeline? If you're in the early years of your career, you may have barely given it a thought other than to regularly contribute to your retirement accounts. It might seem like a foggy, distant concept that may not even happen. Other things on your mind are more important and immediate.

Perhaps in your 50s or so, retirement starts to become a goal that's in reach, or at least one that you would like to be in reach. You're probably watching the stock market and your investment account balances more closely. You might be estimating what kind of equity you have in your house, and whether it makes sense to downsize eventually. It's almost instinct to be thinking this way.

Instinct is good; a plan is better. So we'll try to help your focus with a to-do list as you approach retirement. Are you on the right track to retire? If not, what can get you there?

The Cost Of Living

If you're not keeping track of what you spend, you should start making a habit of doing so.

Yes, you need to save and invest. Yes, you might have a "number" you're trying to hit, meaning a certain level of invested assets at which you would be comfortable calling it quits on full-time work. But before you get to that point, you have to have a sense of what your lifestyle requires in terms of outflows. Spending should be the basis of any plan.

And that's not just what you're spending on day-to-day expenses either, although that's very important. Utilities, vehicle maintenance, and fuel, groceries--these are all things you should have a handle on. But big-ticket items that come and go need to be accounted for too.

Here, we're thinking of things like medical expenses. You're probably paying for medical insurance in some fashion pre-retirement, whether you're fully aware of it or not. If you're covered by an employer plan, that's coming out of your pay. When you're retired, of course, it won't be. But it will need to be paid for somehow. Medicare will handle some of it, but not all of it. Medicare Part B premiums are just that--premiums--and those will cost.

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