By Andrew Petty
Every day brings you a little closer to retirement age. Are you prepared for the financial impact of leaving the workforce? Here’s a checklist to help you consider the variables that impact your retirement readiness:
- Estimate your retirement living costs. Do you know how much money you will need to live comfortably in retirement? The amount you spend is likely to change over the years. For many retirees, expenses are highest in the early active years of retirement, but also may spike later in life, should you require costly living assistance.
- Add up your assets. As you approach retirement, you’ll want to have a good handle on the assets available to fund your retirement. Consider the equity in your home and other properties, your investment accounts, retirement accounts, annuities or cash-value insurance and savings accounts. If you’re a collector and hope to cash in, now is a good time to get an appraisal to determine current market value.
- Think about liquidity. How will you access your savings in retirement? Will you need to sell securities or properties? Do you own an annuity that can be converted into an income stream? Do you have a lot of pre-tax dollars in your retirement accounts? You’ll want to have a plan to withdraw from your retirement savings in the most financially advantageous way.
- Calculate your Social Security earnings. How much you will receive each month from Social Security is based on your work history and the age at which you choose to retire. To receive your maximum monthly benefit, plan to claim your Social Security benefits at full retirement age (or later– up to age 70). Filing at an earlier age will result in a permanent reduction in monthly benefits.
- Consider your tax obligations. Taxes continue even when you stop working. Assuming you meet the income threshold, some portion of your Social Security income will be taxed. The good news is that as a retiree, you will most likely qualify for a lower marginal income tax rate. State income taxes vary widely and may influence where you want to retire.
- Don’t forget about inflation. While your Social Security benefits are adjusted for inflation, your other income may not be immune to rising consumer prices. Keep inflation in mind as you estimate your living expenses into the future.
- Sign up for Medicare during the limited enrollment window. To avoid penalties, you must elect your Medicare benefits within a limited time frame on either side of age 65. Special rules apply for people who continue to work and are covered by an employer’s health insurance plan. During Medicare enrollment, you’ll also have the opportunity to choose an optional Medicare Supplement insurance plan. Medicare Supplement plans help pay for out-of-pocket costs such as co-payments, coinsurance and deductibles under original Medicare.
- Consult the experts. Don’t wait until the last minute to figure out how you’ll pay your way in retirement. Talk to your accountant and financial advisor and explore your options. Together, you can devise a retirement strategy to help you make the most of the savings you’ve accrued from a lifetime of work.
Andrew R. Petty, CRPC®, APMA®, CLTC®, is a Private Wealth Advisor with Nona Wealth Advisors, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC. He offers fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been in practice for 19 years. To contact him, please call 407-249-4006, visit his website at https://www.ameripriseadvisors.com/team/nona-wealth-advisors or stopover at his office at 10917 Dylan Loren Circle, Suite A, Orlando, FL 32825.
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