The Checklist for When Your Retire

Updated on May 13, 2015

By Chip Hollingsworth, Founder of Federal Employee Benefits Education Agency

When planning for anything, whether is a new project around the house, packing for a vacation or even a trip to the grocery store, most of us will have multiple lists for each, items to remember to pick up or things to do before we leave. It’s the easiest way to keep everything front and center in our mind and to make sure all our bases are covered. So when it comes to the topic of retirement, one of the most important times to plan, it only makes sense to spend time developing your handy checklist of things you must not forget!

Like any important project the planning has to start early and the checklist must be complete. When thinking about everything that must be considered when planning for retirement it can easily become overwhelming so we have made it one step easier for you. Below are the top 10 things you should have on your retirement checklist.

  1. Know your current financial position.  Develop a balance sheet and spending plan (cash flow statement).  The balance sheet will show you the net assets you have to work with and the cash flow will show you where your critical spending occurs.  One national writer has said, it’s not a budget, it’s a spending plan. 
  2. Get professional assistance when you feel you may be making guesses rather than informed choices.  Inform you heirs of your plans, as they will be the ones to settle matters once you pass.
  3. Set reasonable targets for income and needs.  Needs include providing for survivors when you die.  If total assets and income fall short, then consider how life insurance may fill the gap.
  4. Review your sources of income, especially Social Security and make sure the records are accurate.  Seek advice on the best choice for taking Social Security.  There are actually 567 ways to draw Social Security benefits so be sure to choose the right one to fit your situation.
  5. Make intentional choices to minimize investment risk.  Use investments that can assure you that you will have income to meet your needs for as long as you live. 
  6. Make sure you have a valid estate transfer plan, health care proxy and advance directives.  Check your beneficiary designations and ownerships on all assets to make sure you have them updated and are as you intend.
  7. Make intentional decisions to lower your income taxes.  Because of the tax code and the large sums in qualified plans, you may be paying more in retirement than while in the workforce.  There are still ways to legally reduce your income taxes; educate yourself on your options and seek counsel to make the right decision for you and your family.
  8. Make intentional decisions to avoid personal risk by reviewing the protective features of your liability insurance.  Personal Umbrella programs often through your home and auto coverage cost pennies and may save you thousands. Depending on the state of residence certain investments may be exempt from legal confiscation. Talk to your agent and financial advisors so you know the rules.
  9. Work on your mental well-being.  Keep current by continuing your education and pursue your passions.  Many great ideas have been developed when the person had fewer distractions in retirement.  Go even further and volunteer to help organizations, you have a wealth of knowledge to bestow.  Become a mentor and develop others.
  10. Motion is better than meditation.  Procrastination is the single biggest enemy for retirees.  If you seek a peaceful secure retirement, PLANNING is the key.  The single most important act for people to start planning, is to actually start planning and the best plan is worthless if it has not been put into motion.

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