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8 ways to prepare for a comfortable and stress-free retirement

Experts say that people need to plan 20 to 30 years in retirement with a target savings of $1 million. Are you part of this demographic?

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According to a recent Wells Fargo retirement study, more than one-third of the US workers say that it would be financially difficult to live past 85 years of age. Experts advise people to plan 20 or 30 years in retirement with a target saving of $1 million. Does this worry you? Then you need to start planning for your upcoming retirement right now. These tips will help you have a comfortable stress-free retirement.

1. Make savings a non-negotiable item in your budget.

When you are at the peak of your career, you generate the highest income. And that’s the time you can save the most. Contribute as much as possible to your IRA accounts, or your employer’s retirement plan such as 401(k) plans.

2. Make the most of retirement accounts and catch-up contributions too.

You need to invest in your retirement accounts every month. However, if possible or whenever possible, contribute up to the maximum limit allowed in 401(k) plans or IRAs. If your employer matches your contributions, make sure you take advantage of it by contributing to your 401(k) as high as possible. If you are 50 years and above, take benefit of catch-up contributions.

As you close in on retirement, take time to have a look at your total retirement assets. Make decisions to make your portfolio stronger for better returns. Consolidate retirement accounts if required. You may want to check with your ex-employers if you have any 401(k) plans with them.

3. Reduce your debt.

As you are nearing retirement, you need to make sure you do not have a huge amount of debt to deal with in your retirement. If you have a mortgage, try to speed up with your payments. Avoid swiping a credit card to make new purchases, use cash instead. By reducing the existing debt and curbing the need to acquire new debt, you can save money on interest payments.

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4. Determine other financial resources.

Other than the retirement accounts, you may have other assets that can potentially help you to support your lifestyle in retirement. The financial assets you may possess may be a life insurance with cash value or an annuity. If you have a 401(k) account with company stock entitlement, you may take advantage of the Net Unrealized Appreciation (NUA) rules. You may also want to find out if your employer offers retiree health insurance.

5. Calculate your predictable retirement income.

It’s always good to estimate the income you are expected to get from your Social Security, employer pension schemes, your savings, and your retirement accounts. The general rule of thumb here is that if you want your assets to last for a lifetime, you can only afford to spend 4 percent of your retirement income. That means, if you have $1 million in retirement assets, you can afford to spend only $40,000 per year. A reality check here. Are your retirement assets generating enough income to support your retirement lifestyle?

6. Determine the amount you’ll need to support your lifestyle.

You’ll have to make hard choices and difficult decisions too. Decide how you will live in retirement. Most importantly, start putting aside the money to support that lifestyle. Will you be relocating or moving into a smaller house? Will you have grown up children to support? Will you be still having debt when you retire?

Take into consideration the retirement lifestyle that you want to live. (Source)

7. Make arrangements for future medical costs.

Your medical insurance may cover your routine health costs, but to cover your non-routine health expenses you may want to think of getting an add-on coverage. Your health expenses are likely to go up as you age. Most medical insurances do not cover long-term care costs. To ensure that you do not spend your retirement nest egg on health, consider taking a long-term care medical insurance.

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Consider having a health savings account. It provides tax benefits. Consider contributing up to its maximum limit. But, if the money is used for non-qualified medical expenses, it may attract income tax and penalties. If you let it accumulate until you actually need it in retirement, you could have accumulated quite an amount that can cover your health expenses.

8. Create a withdrawal strategy.

There are different rules governing the withdrawal aspect of different types of retirement accounts. When you withdraw from a 401(k) or a traditional IRA accounts, your withdrawals are taxed. Withdrawals from Roth IRAs are not taxed as long as the withdrawals are done adhering to certain rules.

Withdrawal from an annuity account may or may not be taxed and that depends on the amount of money you withdraw. You need to make good choices as far as retirement accounts are concerned and create a withdrawal strategy that helps you maintain a good financial health in retirement.

Quick takeaways

Picture your lifestyle in retirement. Then take an estimate of resources that you need to maintain that lifestyle.

Maintain a right healthy mix of stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and other assets so that your portfolio generates a good ROI throughout retirement.

Health expenses will increase as you age. Consider a health insurance policy that provides maximum coverage.

(Featured image by American Advisors Group via Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.)


DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation for writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.

Rick Pendykoski is the owner of Self Directed Retirement Plans LLC, a retirement planning firm based in Goodyear, AZ. He has over three decades of experience working with investments and retirement planning, and over the last 10 years has turned his focus to self-directed accounts and alternative investments. Rick regularly posts helpful tips and articles on his blog at SD Retirement as well as Business.com, SAP, MoneyForLunch, Biggerpocket, SocialMediaToday, and NuWireInvestor. If you need help and guidance with traditional or alternative investments, get in touch with Rick.

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