Personal Finance

Prepare for Retirement by Setting Goals and Planning

By David Chazin

Retirement is one of the most important life stages a person will go through, and with people living longer, the need to properly plan for retirement is critical. Here are some key points that can get you on the right track to a successful retirement:

Set Retirement Goals and Make Plans

These are many questions individuals should ask themselves when they start planning for retirement. When do you want to retire? What type of lifestyle do you want to maintain in retirement? How much will you need to meet your retirement needs? Anyone can say they want to save $1 million for retirement, but it takes a lot more work to figure out exactly how much you will really need and how you can get there.

A good place to start is to set definable and attainable retirement goals. Think about the age you would like to stop working. From there, you can work through how much longer you will be working, how much you can save while working, what your planned annual retirement expenses will be and how long you will need to cover those expenses.

Think about other goals you might have in retirement. It could be a second home, a new vehicle or boat, an annual vacation, or an inheritance left to family or a charity. Once you have an idea of what your retirement goals are, it becomes much easier to estimate how much you should need in retirement.

Don’t forget about inflation – the spending power of $1,000 today will almost certainly not be the same 30 years from now. From there, you can begin working out how much you need to be saving now and up until retirement to reach those goals.

For many, retirement may seem far off, but rather than waiting until retirement is just a few years off, it is prudent to start thinking about retirement now. Whether you are in your 20s and 30s and just starting your career, or in your 40s and 50s and getting closer to retirement, having a plan in place can make all the difference for a successful retirement. With a plan in place now, you can work on implementing that plan and adjusting it as needed. (For related reading, see: 7 Creative Ways to Save for Retirement Early.)

Start Saving and Investing Now

The earlier you can start saving for retirement, the better off you will be. The longer you wait, the more you will have to save later in life to catch up.

If you begin saving $2,500 per year at 25 years old and assume a 5% rate of return over the next 40 years, you will have about $300,000 when you are 65 years old. If you wait until you are 40, you will need to save approximately $6,300 per year over the next 25 years to have the same amount when you turn 65. At 50 years old, you would need to save approximately $14,000 per year over the next 15 years.

The key is to get started as early as possible regardless of the investment vehicle you use. The longer you wait to begin investing, the more difficult it will be to catch up.

Don't Rely Too Strongly on Social Security

When available, Social Security benefits are useful tools to help fund retirement. Most American retirees will qualify for Social Security benefits after working at least 10 years (if you’ve never worked, but are married, you may qualify for a spousal benefit). Benefits include retirement and disability income, Medicare, Medicaid and survivor benefits.

Based on when you were born, Social Security benefits can be taken as early as 62 years old. The longer you delay activating Social Security benefits (until you reach 70 years old), the higher your monthly payment will be. Most American employers and employees pay into Social Security through payroll deductions, so workers are essentially prepaying for guaranteed monthly income in retirement. However, as the population ages, there is a concern the program may face solvency issues in the future.

With this in mind, a prudent approach to planning for your retirement income needs should include additional savings strategies to help ensure a successful retirement isn’t overly reliant on Social Security income.(For more from this author, see: Why You Need to Budget and Self-Fund Retirement.)

Prepare for the Unexpected in Retirement

While you can’t foresee what life has in store for you, you can prepare for the unexpected and put yourself in a better position to handle unplanned expenses. These expenses could include a medical emergency, loss of income due to the death of a spouse, or a long-term care need.

Unexpected expenses, especially medical and long-term care needs, can devastate your financial situation in retirement. Plan for these types of potential money issues in your retirement so you are prepared if you do encounter them. Whether you decide to self-insure with retirement assets or transfer that risk to an insurance policy, preparing for the unexpected can help you keep your retirement on track.

Although everyone's retirement goals and life in retirement are different, many people prepare in the same basic way. Follow these steps to ensure you are correctly preparing for retirement.

(For more from this author, see: Finding Your Perfect Place to Retire.)

Disclaimer: Insight Wealth Strategies, LLC is a Registered Investment Adviser. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Insight Wealth Strategies, LLC and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Insight Wealth Strategies, LLC unless a client service agreement is in place.

This article was originally published on Investopedia.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.