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5-10 Years from Retirement? Get Ahead with These 12 Tips

On your marks, get set…. RETIRE!  If you are in your 50s or 60s, you are probably about 10 years from retirement (give or take) — maybe you are even 5 years from retirement. Regardless of the exact timing, you are about to step into the starting blocks and race for the retirement finish line.

Here are 12 things to do now if you are 5 or 10 years from retirement to improve your future:

1. It is Now or Never: Find More Money and Save It

As a pre retiree, this is your last chance to amass the savings you need to retire comfortably.  You might be surprised by how much you can save in just 5 or 10 years.  Pre retirees should use the motivation of your looming retirement date to buckle down and save as much as possible.

  • Cut expenses.
  • Bank all tax returns, raises, bonuses, inheritances or other surprise money.
  • Consider a second job.
  • Explore ways to create passive income.
  • Save as much as possible.

2. Max Out Catch Up Contributions

If being just 10 years from retirement is not enough incentive, know that pre retirees get extra tax incentives.  The government encourages workers age 50 and older to save more than younger employees by increasing the contribution limits to 401k and IRA accounts.

According to the IRS:

  • Anyone over 50 can add catch-up contributions up to $6,000 to their 401(k) savings.  That is addition to the $19,000 contribution limit.  So the total you can contribute to these accounts in a given year is $25,000
  • For an IRA, the annual contribution limit for 2019 is $6,000, or $7,000 if you’re age 50 or older.

Learn more about tax advantaged catch up contributions for when you are over 50.

3. Don’t Rely on Just a 401k — Open an IRA Too (or Vice Versa)

Did you know that you can max out your contributions in multiple kinds of retirement accounts?

Go for it! Can you set a goal of: $32,000 if you are single or $64,000 if you are married?

After 50 you can put in $25,000 to your 401k and $7,000 into an IRA.  Are you married?  Double those amounts to save $64,000 in tax advantaged accounts each year.

But, your savings don’t need to stop there.  If you can save more, go ahead and sock the money away in non tax advantaged savings.  You will be happy to have the cash later.

4. Expecting an Inheritance?  Check in With Your Parents

According to research from Charles Schwab, more than half of young adults (53%) believe their parents will leave them an inheritance, versus the average 21% of people who actually received an inheritance of any kind between 1989 and 2007.

If you are banking on an inheritance to help you with retirement, you might want to have a frank conversation with your Mom and Dad, aunt or uncle.  Medical costs have risen tremendously and it is easy to find stories of families who have used up every last dime because they live longer than expected or they need to go into assisted living which can be tremendously expensive.

You might also want to take steps to protect the inheritance.  You could consider purchasing a long term care insurance or life insurance policy for your parents.

5. Get Rid of Debt

Debt can be a problem for retirement.  It is best to split from the masses and try hard to pay it off before you stop working.

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, of families headed by people ages 55 to 64, over 77 percent have debt.  And, the average amount of debt is $108,011.

In retirement, your income is normally reduced to a fixed level, derived from Social Security, pensions, and other retirement savings that have been amassed over the years. A fixed income means that you will not have more money tomorrow to pay off the debt than you do today. You will simply be paying more interest – wasting money every month you carry the debt.

Here are 6 Ways to Have a Debt Free Retirement.  Try out a debt free scenario in the NewRetirement Retirement Planner to really see the difference in your finances.

Being 5 to 10 years from retirement means that you have time to tackle your debt.  Now is the time!

6. Talk with Your Spouse

A survey from Fidelity Investments found that finances and retirement planning are extremely difficult subjects for married couples.

In fact, the survey found that: less than half of couples make routine financial decisions, such as budgeting and paying bills, together and only 38 percent jointly discuss their investment and savings strategies for retirement.

Other research finds that couples might not even be on the same page with how they want to spend their time in retirement.

This lack of communication is likely to prove problematic. Use the Retirement Planner to facilitate a conversation about what you want out of retirement and what you will be able to afford.

When  you are 10 years from retirement you’ll still have enough time to make adjustments and compromises to get together on the same page for a happy future.

7. Budget: Inventory Current Spending and Project into Future

Predicting exactly how much you are going to spend in retirement can help you go a long way toward achieving financial security.  And, the less you spend, the less you need to have saved.

When budgeting your retirement, consider that your costs will likely vary.  Most people spend a little more when they first retire, less as they age and a lot more as health declines.

Learn more about how your expenses will change or try out different spending patterns in the retirement planner.  The NewRetirement Retirement Planner lets you set different levels of expenditures for as many different periods of your life as you can imagine.  You can also create a detailed budget for your entire future.

8. Plan for Out of Pocket Medical Costs and the Potential for a Long Term Care Need

If you are somewhere around 10 years from retirement, you really need to think carefully about your future healthcare costs.  There are three categories of spending you need to consider:

Early Retirement Healthcare: If you retire before age 65, funding healthcare before you become eligible for Medicare can be expensive.  Explore 9 ways to cover healthcare for an early retirement.

Medicare: You are sorely mistaken if you think Medicare will pay for everything. According to Fidelity, a 65-year-old couple retiring in 2016 will need an estimated $260,000 to cover health care costs in retirement.

Long Term Care: Not everyone will require long term care, but everyone needs a plan for how to pay for it if they do need it.  Here are 5 creative ways to fund long term care.

The Retirement Planner has some very robust functionality to help you predict your own healthcare costs.  The system allows you to:

  • Enter early retirement costs
  • Estimate out of pocket Medicare costs based on your location, health status and type of coverage
  • Explore options for how to pay for and plan for a long term care need

9. Maintain the “Right” Asset Allocation and Start Thinking About Income Planning

Some experts recommend that your investments become more and more conservative the older you get.  However, most advisors suggest that you try to at least earn returns that will enable you to keep up with inflation — or even get ahead.

The right asset allocation for you will depend on your goals, time horizon and overall financial profile. Explore simple ways to develop the best asset allocation strategy for you.

However, beyond asset allocation and being concerned about  your returns, now is the time to start thinking about retirement income planning — how are you going to turn your assets into income.

10. Consider Your Own Needs (Current and Future) Before Helping Your Kids or Aging Parents

When you are 5 – 10 years from retirement, you often face a lot of mouths to feed — kids in college, parents with medical issues or in long term care and the need to fund their own retirements.

If you can not afford all three, you will need to prioritize and make trade offs. Many financial advisors will advise retirement savings over spending on family since there are loans for college and some options for public assistance for long term care but no financial options for paying for retirement beyond working and savings.

Explore how to fund a child’s education and use the retirement planner to run different scenarios and find a solution you can be comfortable with.

11. Know What You Are Going to Do in Retirement and WHERE!

It is easy to get wrapped up in the financial aspects of planning for retirement.  However, a plan for what to do in retirement is perhaps more important.  The happiest retirees have a purpose and focused interests.

It is time to start dreaming!

And, think carefully about where you will live in retirement.  This is the one time in your life when you are not tethered by your connections and a job and you can choose a place to live that completely suits your temperament and interests.

Even better if you seriously consider moving to a home that may be less expensive that your current residence.  Tapping home equity can be a powerful way to bridge a gap in retirement savings.    Explore this complete guide to downsizing for retirement or try out different housing scenarios in the Retirement Planner.

12. Set Goals, Make a Plan: Don’t Let it Just Happen to You!

If you are preparing for an event, there is a lot you can do before stepping up to the starting line to insure success.

Retirement is no different and as a pre retiree now is your chance to do the things you need to do for a secure future.  Use the deadline as motivation.

The NewRetirement Retirement Planner will help you set goals, make a plan and maintain and update your tactics over time.  This tool is easy to use but offers very detailed and sophisticated calculations.  You input your information and the system performs hundreds of different equations and provides charts to help you understand your financial situation.

Don’t like your results?  The planner let’s you add more information, change your assumptions and keep playing with your data until you find a financial plan that will work for you.

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