In a world full of economic uncertainty, there’s still one thing we know we can count on: the passage of time. For many of us, each year brings us closer to retirement—which is why I like to periodically check in on my retirement portfolio, plans, and goals and ensure that I’m on the right track.
The start of a new year is particularly good for this kind of check-in—our holiday shopping is finally done, we’re back to work and wanting to set ourselves up for a successful new year, and we still have time to contribute to our IRAs.
But what should you be including on your retirement checklist in today’s ever-changing economic environment? It will likely vary depending on your unique financial situation, but here are a few ideas to get you started.
Every retirement checklist can have a simple but important first step: examining your current financial situation.
To know where you want to go, you first have to know where you are. For example, I like to check and see how much I’ve contributed to my retirement accounts by the start of each calendar year. According to the IRS, “The total contributions you make each year to all of your traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs can’t be more than $6,000 ($7,000 if you’re age 50 or older) or, if less, your taxable compensation for the year.”
However, it’s important to note that this limit does not count toward rollover contributions—so moving some of your retirement funds is still a possibility.
As a constant reader of financial news, I also like to include examining the current financial state of our nation as well as the world in this step. For example, Fox Business reported on January 23, 2023, that most business economists are saying a recession is likely to hit the U.S. economy this year, characterizing our nation has having “an increasingly dark economic outlook.”
That same day, CBS news reported that “a closely watched gauge of economic activity shows the U.S. is likely to tip into recession sometime this year,” referring to the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index, which in December 2022 showed its 10th consecutive monthly drop in the U.S. economy’s trajectory.
This information helps me get a clear picture of where our economy might be heading in the short term, which will help me set more manageable goals for retirement savings and contributions. It also may help me decide where I want my money to go in both the short and long terms.
A helpful second step in creating your retirement checklist is to decide on your short- and long-term savings goals.
As much as I like getting into the details of a new project, goal, or other undertaking, I still like to start with the big picture. Once we know where we stand, we can shape an idea of where we’d like to end up.
Do your retirement plans include travel or expensive hobbies, or do you plan to downsize or move to a location with a lower cost of living?
Forbes wrote in July 2022 that some individuals like to use common calculations like the “25x rule,” which suggests that you’ll need 25 times your current annual budget for retirement, or the 80% rule, which suggests that your annual spending in retirement will decline by one fifth (20%) compared to your final working year.
The truth, of course, is that these numbers are largely intended to be broad guidelines, not hard rules. As I stated earlier, everyone’s financial situation and goals are unique, so it’s up to you to determine what you’ll want your retirement to look like, then work backward from there.
Once you know where you are and where you want to be, it’s time to decide how you’d like to get there.
This is when your unique asset mix comes into play. If you’ve already examined your current financial situation, you may have included a look at your current level of diversification. Now, if you wish, you can add items to your checklist that include doing research on different assets and asset classes to help you determine how much risk exposure you would like to have.
Personally, I believe a well-diversified portfolio provides more peace of mind when it comes to saving for retirement. Having a mix of different asset classes like stocks, bonds, precious metals, and even cash can help reduce my overall risk exposure—then diversifying within those asset classes with a mix of stocks from different industries, long- and short-term bonds, and different precious metals can further increase my diversification.
If you prefer to have as much control over your retirement portfolio as possible, you may also wish to look into opening a self-directed IRA. These accounts allow for greater control over your asset mix as well as a greater variety of assets to choose from. In particular, you can open a precious metals IRA with the help of a dedicated U.S. Money Reserve IRA Account Executive, giving you the power to add physical precious metals to your retirement portfolio and increase your diversification with hard, tangible assets.
In the face of economic uncertainty, it can be difficult to decide what’s possible for the future or where to get started when it comes to saving for retirement. But by taking stock of where you are, where you want to be, and how you want to get there, you can begin creating a retirement checklist that may serve as both a guide to retirement savings and a much-needed source of peace of mind.