Retirement Ready? Get This Easy Pre-Retirement Checklist

Get Your Golden Years in Order with This Easy Pre-Retirement Checklist


Written by John Rothans

Jan 22, 2021

Have you put off planning for retirement because the task seems too big? While most Americans plan to retire by age 67, their finances don’t necessarily reflect that reality. According to one estimate, nearly two thirds of Americans have less than $100,000 set aside for retirement.

You can stand apart from the crowd, though. You can take small but essential steps today to plan for retirement with this simple pre-retirement checklist from U.S. Money Reserve.

1. Establish a Plan

Without a plan in place, it’s tough to achieve your retirement objectives. Where are you going, and how will you get there? What do you want in your golden years? Your plan should include a goal for how much money you want to have set aside by the time you’re ready to retire, along with a strategy to reach that goal.

It might be worth spending some time with a financial advisor to devise your retirement plan. An advisor can help you nail down factors that will go into crafting the plan, such as anticipated life expectancy, expected inflation rates, taxes, and retirement expenses (healthcare and travel, for instance). You’ll also want to consider whether you’ll continue doing some work when you’re retired or whether you’ll completely leave the workforce.

You don’t have to spend a pretty penny to take advantage of a financial advisor’s advice, either. Kyle Ryan, a certified financial planner and executive vice president of advisory services at Personal Capital, says that “generally speaking, 1% per year is a reasonable fee to pay for financial guidance.”

2. Examine Income Sources

What will your sources of income be when you’re retired? Income sources could include Social Security, a 401(k), a precious metals IRA, rental property, annuities, or life insurance.

This stage of the pre-retirement review should include a major decision: When will you start collecting Social Security benefits? You can start drawing these benefits anytime from age 62 to 70. However, the later you begin collecting, the more money you may be able to keep in your pocket.

3. Diversify Your Portfolio

When you’re preparing for retirement, it’s wise to expect the unexpected. Therefore, it’s recommended to diversify your portfolio so that you don’t put your entire nest egg in one basket. Why? Diversification can help you (and your money) weather economic ups and downs.

Depending on your needs, goals, and tolerance for risk, a diversified portfolio may include cash, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), real estate, and gold and other precious metals. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) suggests diversifying your portfolio among asset categories and within each asset category.

A sample portfolio might include stocks and other equities (25%), cash (20%), precious metals (20%), fixed income (15%), property (10%), and other assets (10%). Keep in mind, though, that this is just an example of how you might balance your portfolio.

You’re not limited to diversifying within your current accounts, either. You can have multiple retirement accounts, including a self-directed precious metals IRA that allows for the inclusion of certain gold and silver products that meet strict composition guidelines from the Internal Revenue Code.

4. Get Ready for Healthcare

Americans are living longer, potentially leading to years if not decades of healthcare expenses. While Medicare is a primary option for covering retirees’ healthcare expenses, it doesn’t cover all of the expenses.

Therefore, you’ll want to weigh how you’ll pay for healthcare during your golden years. For instance, you may want to look into buying a long-term care insurance policy or a hybrid life and long-term care insurance policy.

If you wind up retiring before you’re eligible for Medicare, you’ll want to figure out ahead of time whether you should, for instance, sign up for your spouse’s health insurance plan or buy private health insurance.

5. Come Up with an Estate Plan

As part of your pre-retirement planning, you should develop an estate plan. An estate plan will dictate how your wealth is distributed after you’re gone, whether you leave your estate to relatives, charities, or other beneficiaries.

A survey by Caring.com found that only 32% of Americans had a will in 2020, down from 42% just three years earlier. Among those 55 and older, almost half had a will in 2020.

Aside from a will or trust, your estate plan should include a living will and a durable healthcare power of attorney.

6. Pick a Place to Retire

You may hope to stay in the house where you’ve lived for 20 years. Or you may want to downsize and buy a smaller condo. You might even want to split time between your regular residence and a vacation home.

Choosing where you envision retiring can help determine how much money you’ll need during retirement. For instance, staying in a high-tax state (like California, Minnesota, or Vermont) could have a substantially different impact on your retirement savings than relocating to a low-tax state (like Alaska, Florida, or Illinois).

Is there a gap between reality and your retirement plan? Let’s work together to close it. Make your retirement golden with physical assets that shine above the rest.

Disclaimer: Nothing herein should be considered as tax, legal, or retirement advice as U.S. Money Reserve cannot and does not offer such advice. Clients should consult an attorney or tax advisor for specific tax or legal advice.


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