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9 Retirement Checklist for Soon-to-be Retirees

Not sure how to start planning your retirement? Having a checklist certainly helps you to get started .

The idea of retirement brings a mix of emotions. Some, who have planned and prepared in advance, look forward to it. Others view it as a dreaded deadline, like a fast-approaching dark cloud on the horizon.


Regardless of which camp you are in, if retirement is in the near future for you (whether due to age, health, or by choice), this article explains the things you need to pay attention to immediately to ensure the next handful of years provide you with a smooth transition into your retirement.

#1. Decide When to Retire


Have you decided when to retire? Or is this already determined for you for example having to adhere to the mandatory retirement age of 60? For some, they want to accumulate enough wealth much earlier, say at 45 years old, and then move on with other things in life. Some others, still feel that there is so much energy left, and want to continue earning a salary even after 60 years old. And then for others, such as business owners, just want to get out of active management of the enterprise and move on to other important things in life.


In any case, you must have a clear goal on when you intend to retire. At 55? 61? 63? 75? By having a date in mind, it helps with more accurate calculations as you plan out the details.

#2. Pare Down Your Debts


If you plan to retire soon, immediately work on reducing your debt, or better still if you can pay them all off before retirement. Else, paying off debt can have a big impact on your retirement savings as you won’t be drawing an active salary to compensate then.


Tackle high-interest debt quickly, such as personal loans and credit card debt. Credit cards typically charge 18% per year on outstanding balances. Unless you can find an investment that pays a guaranteed return higher than this, it makes sense to quickly settle your outstanding balance on this high-interest debt.


Common outstanding big debts are your residence home mortgage (not your investment properties, in which the rental can offset the loan) and car hire purchases. For example, according to a study, 50% of retirees still have their house mortgages unsettled at retirement. How is this a concern? Let’s elaborate.


  • If the interest rates on your loan are less than your ongoing investment returns, this is called a positive interest rate differential, and it means you can afford to continue paying off your debt using your investment income.

  • If however the interest rates are higher than your ongoing investment returns, this is negative interest rate differential. In such cases, it is urgent for retirees to pay off their mortgage before it gobbles up their in-retirement savings.


Being debt-free at retirement provides a huge psychological relief. Do what you can now to set a clear path to settle your debts over the next few years to prepare for a more enjoyable retirement.


#3. After Retirement Expenses


Have you thought of what your monthly expenses might look like in-retirement? Being 3 to 5 years away, in-retirement expenses can be estimated reliably based on your current expenses.


If you haven’t already, start to create a monthly expense budget now to understand what your expenses are. Then, start thinking where each expense item will stand during retirement. Some expense items will for sure become lower in retirement (e.g. transportation), whilst others will become higher (e.g. healthcare costs).


Be sure to include your annual expenses as well, such as your quit rent and assessment charges, auto and home insurance etc. Also be sure to include big ticket items that you plan to do, for instance going for that dream holiday to the Patagonia highlands in four years; your daughter’s wedding reception in six years etc.


With the numbers in hand, you can better extrapolate how much you need to save and invest now to fund your X number of retirement years.


#4. Post-Retirement Activities


Once the initial holiday period is over, how will you be keeping busy during retirement? Put some thought into this as filling up your days with productive activities can keep you physically and mentally healthy in the long term.


Options include but are not limited to:

  • Semi-retirement; join a consultancy, work freelance. Use your skills for some income.

  • Contribute to society through volunteer work.

  • Take up an active hobby that requires physical and mental use.

  • Get involved with religious activities.

  • Start a social enterprise.


All these are important, as it improves a retiree’s overall well-being thus your longevity. Another study has revealed that social inclusion greatly impacts retirees’ well-being too.

In any case, be sure to include the above’s planned work or activity’s associated costs in your expected monthly budget.

#5. Downsizing


Your kids have probably grown up by then or are about to leave the nest. With your trimmed down income, you might also be considering downsizing to a smaller home or even moving to a town with a lower cost of living to trim your household expenses.

Whichever your choice, do check out our article on 5 Tips To Choose the Right Home. It would be sensible to prioritize a home that has good accessibility features (e.g. less stairs), and has convenient facilities such as medical centers, public parks, and supermarkets close by.


Do also consider the social aspect of your new home. Does it feel like you can meet new friends easily? Are there activities you can pursue in the area?


Of course, an alternative would be to initially rent a place in that area for a year or two, and see if you can blend in. If it doesn’t work out, you can always retreat back to your old home.

#6. Insurance Review


It would be wise to review your insurance coverage prior to going into retirement as your needs may have changed and some adjustments should be made such as increasing surgical and hospitalization coverage.


Make sure to get the coverage reviewed and get the additional cover if it is found to be inadequate. Remember, it is best to get high coverage now when you still do not have any pre-existing health conditions. Otherwise, you might end up paying high monthly premiums or worse, find your insurance proposal rejected by the insurance company.


Another coverage that should be considered is Long Term Care. For some insurance policies, it is included as a Rider. Find out about long-term care coverage here.


#7. Healthcare Cost as Retirees


With age, comes wisdom. Unfortunately, aches and pains also enter the picture along with various health issues.


Insurance does not cover everything so your monthly expenses ought to consider covering supplements and medication. Talk to seniors you know to get an idea of what you may be facing. For more serious issues that you may potentially face as our bodies wear out, you can get more details of costs for physiotherapy, dialysis, home nursing, retirement communities, etc.


For sure these costs will become a big chunk of your monthly expenses as your age increases so it is best to figure this out now rather than worry later.


#8. Settle Your Paperwork


Nearing retirement, have you done your Will? What about a Testamentary Trust? a Power of Attorney? If you are a business owner, plan your exit well with your business partners and make sure you have a Business Continuity document in place. If unsure about these things, talk to a licensed financial professional.

#9. Determine Your Retirement Numbers


After considering all the above, and including them in your monthly and annual budget, have you determined what is your Retirement Number? Have you considered how long will you be in retirement? What about the effects of inflation? Have you included it? Since you’re only a few years away from retirement, does your projected savings and investment surpass this number? Or are you projected to have a shortfall?

Conclusion


It can get tough figuring out what to prepare for, working out the numbers, and figuring out how to get what done when between now and retirement. Consider working with a licensed financial planner, who can facilitate all the above discussions with you and spouse.


A licensed financial planner can help prepare the annual financial budgets for you, determine if you have a shortfall or surplus, and develop strategies that are within your means to cover any financial gaps. Take action now for a better future for you and your spouse.






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