Do you have a bucket list for retirement? If you’re not familiar, a bucket list includes all the things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.” Your list may include things like traveling the world, pursuing a new hobby or visiting friends and family.
Of course, to check every box on your bucket list, you’ll need to have a strong financial foundation as you enter retirement. That’s why you may want to create a preretirement bucket list that includes all the financial milestones you want to meet before you stop working.
Your preretirement bucket list should align with your unique needs and goals. However, some items are nearly universal for a comfortable and financially stable retirement. Three such items are listed below. If you’re preparing for retirement, you may want to develop a plan to hit these milestones.
Build a reserve fund.
It’s always advisable to have a significant emergency fund. Life can change quickly. You never know when a costly emergency, like a medical issue or a home repair, will arise. Conventional wisdom is that it’s helpful to have enough savings to fund at least a few months’ worth of living expenses.
However, emergency funds are even more important in retirement. You don’t have the benefit of a regular paycheck to supplement your savings. An emergency could force you to dip into your retirement assets, limiting your ability to cover living expenses in the future.
There’s also the increased risk of costly medical issues when you get older. It’s only natural that your health may decline as you age. Many retirees assume that Medicare covers all medical costs, but that’s usually not the case. There are many medical expenses that Medicare does not cover, including long-term care. It’s helpful to have a significant reserve fund to help pay for these costs.
Pay off debt.
Debt is a fact of life for many Americans. Debt can even be a helpful financial tool, especially when used to fund a home purchase or possibly an education. In retirement, however, outstanding debt can be a drain on your income and assets. Every dollar used to service debt is a dollar that can’t be used to fund your lifestyle.
If you have outstanding debt, now may be the time to get serious about paying it off before you retire. Develop and implement a plan to pay it down. You may want to consider consolidating debt into vehicles with lower interest rates, or possibly even renegotiating the rate and payment terms with your creditors.
Maximize your guaranteed* income.
One of the biggest challenges in retirement is making sure your income and your assets last as long as you need them. You can’t predict how long you will live, so it can be difficult to know how much money you can afford to withdraw from your savings each year. If you take out too much early in retirement, you may not have enough left to fund your later years.
You can minimize this risk by maximizing your guaranteed income. You’ll likely have guaranteed lifetime income from Social Security. You may also have a pension. Consider other vehicles that allow you to convert a portion of your savings into a guaranteed lifetime income stream. For example, annuities offer multiple strategies to generate income that you can’t outlive.
Ready to check these items and more off your retirement planning list? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Carstens Financial Group. We can help you analyze your needs and develop a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.
*Guarantees, including optional benefits, are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuer, and may contain limitations, including surrender charges, which may affect policy values.
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