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How to plan for the retirement you really want.

If you’re getting close to retirement, you’re likely thinking about how and where you’ll spend your days — and wondering if your finances are on track to support your new lifestyle. The checklist below can help you focus on the key decisions you’ll need to make to retire on your terms.

  • Picture your ideal retirement lifestyle.
    How do you want to spend your time? Will your days be filled with leisure activities, community involvement, travel or even part-time work? Create a list of your desired lifestyle factors.

  • Decide where you want to live.
    Will you stay in your current home or downsize? Remain in the same town, or relocate closer to family or somewhere with a lower cost of living? Explore the financial aspects of a new location, including property taxes, cost of living, healthcare and transportation. There are many factors to consider when deciding where to retire.

  • Take stock of your assets.
    What sources of income will you have during retirement? How much can you expect to receive from each source and for how long? Get a sense of how much income you’ll need to cover your living expenses after you retire. Review your retirement savings, expected Social Security benefits and other sources of income such as pensions, real estate and other investments to determine how much you’ll receive each year.

In addition, understand the minimum distribution requirements of your retirement accounts and factor in any additional income, such as part-time work.

  • Create a retirement budget.
    Estimate your expenses during retirement as closely as you can. Be sure to include factors like housing, new lifestyle activities and healthcare — as well as any family members who may rely on you for financial support. Consider doing a trial run with your new budget before you retire. This can help you determine if you need to cut expenses or make other adjustments. There are ways to cut costs - not fun - in retirement.

If your finances are falling short of your retirement goals, you may be able to take advantage of catch-up contribution opportunities with IRA and 401(k) accounts. In addition, we recommend continuing to reduce your debt and increase your emergency fund. That way you’ll be prepared for large, unexpected expenses and more financially secure in retirement.

  • Review Social Security benefits.
    The Social Security Administration website provides information and a number of retirement planning resources. One available calculator, for instance, helps you figure out how much your benefits would be before full retirement age, versus how much you’d receive if you wait until full retirement age. This helps you consider if it’s worth delaying retirement for a few years to boost the size of your check. You may also be able to work part-time and still receive full Social Security benefits if your income is below the annual limit.

  • Determine how you’ll cover medical costs.
    Healthcare is one of the largest expenses retirees face. As you anticipate known and unexpected medical expenses, investigate health insurance options, including your current health insurance company, Medicare, supplemental insurance and long-term care.

You’ve worked hard to save and plan for a rewarding retirement — and you deserve to enjoy your golden years. A financial advisor can connect you to more retirement planning resources, as well as review your assets and goals and help you develop a plan to transition into retirement with confidence. By preparing now, you can build the retirement experience you’ve been dreaming of.

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