Retirement planning can be a time of great anticipation as well as great anxiety. And, given the current economic climate, many individuals have changed their plans for retirement by either pushing back their retirement date or have considered working part time during their retirement to supplement their fixed incomes.
While some people close to retirement have changed their goals or approach, others simply don’t know what to do. “Daunting uncertainties can creep into your plans and threaten to burst your bubble before it is even fully inflated. While the current economic climate should be cause for caution and concern, careful planning will help you enjoy your retirement the way you had envisioned before the economic turndown,” says Jim Cantrell, Certified Financial Planner Professional, Owner and President of Financial Strategies, Inc., a wealth advisory firm in Brookfield, Wisconsin.
Cantrell, who is also a National Association of Personal Financial Advisors’ (NAPFA) Registered Advisor and current NAPFA Board President of the Midwest Region, provides the following five tips to help you create a solid financial plan that will get you back on track and allow you to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Tip Number 1 – Know what you are going to do
Jim Cantrell offers that “This may seem like a strange tip, however, many people do not plan past the idea of no longer working. They don’t think about what will occupy their time once they retire. Your future plans will help you create a better financial plan for your retirement.” If you have grandiose thoughts of spending months in exotic destinations, you will need to put a bit more into your retirement fund than if your goal is to do volunteer work and stay close to home. One of the best ways to ensure that your future plans are appropriate for you is to get involved in activities that are of interest before you retire. For example, if you plan to spend your time volunteering, consider giving a few hours a week before retirement to see if this will work with your future plans. Additionally, if relocation is part of your retirement goal, spend time vacationing in the areas you could potential call your future home.
Tip Number 2 – Know your benefits
“Once you retire, there is a good chance you will not receive the same benefits you did when you were employed,” states Cantrell. It is important to talk to your organization’s human resources department well before you plan to retire. Consider items such as health insurance, pension and stock options. Each of these things could have a big impact on your finances once you are retired.
Tip Number 3 – Diversify your stock options
As you approach retirement, it is important to ensure that you do not have an over concentration of stock positions. Sometimes senior management and upper level executives have a lot of their portfolio tied up in their company; however, once they retire they will not have the same level of control in the direction the company takes. Having all your eggs in one basket (or a lot of them) is never a good idea. This is why it is important to consider diversifying your investment portfolio.
Tip Number 4 – Move to stable investments
As you approach retirement, (at some point say five to seven years prior) consider shifting your investment portfolio from a higher percentage of equities to less riskier, fixed or stable investments. This will make your portfolio a much safer place to go and get your money when you need it.
Tip Number 5 – Have a solid plan
“In order to enjoy a comfortable retirement, it is important to have a clear understanding of what it will take to retire,” Cantrell offers as a final tip. How much will you need to put away to live the lifestyle you currently enjoy, or what things do you plan to cut out? Know what you currently have available and what you will need and put it all down in a solid and workable plan.
“Retirement should be a time of great joy and relaxation. Planning for this time in life is vital to ensure that the goals you have set will be attainable. Don’t let the uncertainty of the current economic climate stop you from planning your retirement,” Cantrell concludes.