People work a lifetime so they can enjoy their retirement years. Here are five things to consider if you are within five years of retirement:
1. Study up on retirement issues. Plan a trip to your local library and check out a few books dealing with retirement issues. Talk to some of your friends who have retired to get their input on retirement issues. Make sure you understand the basics of Social Security and Medicare. Visit the Social Security website at www.ssa.gov. It's a challenge to deal with the emotional issues of retiring as well as the financial aspects.
2. Develop a written financial inventory. Make a list of all of your financial assets including bank accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts, the value of your home, cars, etc. Include the current value of the asset and where it is located. Information about your lawyer, accountant, insurance agent and financial consultant also should be included. This helps you get an overall picture of your financial situation.
3. Check your asset allocation. You should check your asset allocation on a regular basis but especially as you move closer to retirement. Do you have a mix of stocks and bonds that is appropriate for someone close to retirement? Adjust your allocation if needed.
4. Contribute as much as you can to your retirement accounts. Because of recent tax law changes, an employee with a 403(b) or 401(k) can now contribute 100 percent of their taxable income up to $13,000 (or $16,000 if they are 50 or over). IRA limits are currently $3,000 (or $3,500 for those people who are 50 or older).
5. Talk with your spouse about retirement. Retirement is a major change in life, so spend time discussing retirement with your spouse. Do you plan to stay in the same location and in the same house? Will you need to cut back on your expenses? Do you plan to continue to work on a part-time basis? How do you plan to spend your time? Do you plan to do volunteer missions? What hobbies or activities do you want to do together? If you want to travel, where do you want to go?
Retirement can be a wonderful stage of life. However, it is important to plan to retire to something, not just from something. Planning can make all the difference!
Don McLeod is a certified financial planner and an area director in the church retirement marketing department at Guidestone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
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