One day you wake up and you realize that you want to retire. You’re dreaming of the fun and freedom promised by the next chapter of your life, but you are uncertain that you can even afford the life you’re dreaming of.

Like many people, you have pressing questions that you need to answer before you can even set your retirement date:

  • Have you saved enough money to retire now or in the near future?

  • Will you have enough money to last through retirement?

  • How do you put your savings to work in retirement?

  • What does retired life look like?

We built this guide to help you feel confident about making the decision to retire. We’ll start by taking a look at where you are right now and assess whether you’ve saved enough for retirement. You will receive pointers to make sure you and your spouse share the same retirement vision. You’ll learn how to turn your current savings and assets into income. Finally, we give you the options for resources when it comes to retirement planning.

We hope this guide provides the foundation for making informed, confident decisions and the peace of mind that you can achieve a happy, comfortable retirement.

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SECTION 1: Understanding Your Current Situation


Do we have enough money to retire?

The No. 1 question people want to know when they’re getting ready to retire is whether they have enough money to retire on. We all want to enjoy a comfortable retirement without worrying that we are going to run out of money.

While many factors come into play when answering the question, a simple retirement calculator can give you a good start. To understand whether your savings are on track with your retirement date, use our retirement calculator. Keep in mind that your results are a ballpark estimate. To get more specific, please contact us.

Calculate How Much Money
You Need for Retirement

 6 Ways to Make Retirement Work

Did the calculator indicate that you haven’t saved quite enough? Don’t worry—you can build a bigger nest egg. Here are six ideas you can adopt today.

1. Delay retirement for a few years. This can give you the breathing room to save more without the stress of meeting an earlier retirement timetable.

2. Make the maximum possible contributions to your retirement plans—even if that means cutting back on expenses. If you’re over 50, you can take advantage of “catch-up” rules to set aside even more.

3. Maximize contributions to your health savings account. Your HSA can help you pay for medical expenses in retirement if you fund those expenses out of pocket now and let the money in your HSA accumulate.

4. Postpone claiming Social Security benefits. The longer you wait to claim your benefits (at least, until age 70), the more you’ll receive when you do claim them. Note: Your payout will not increase past 70, so it doesn’t make sense to delay after that.

5. Optimize your tax bill. Tax-reducing strategies such as asset location and tax loss harvesting can help increase your income in retirement without forcing you to increase your savings today. This could help you retire sooner despite what the retirement calculator indicated.

6. Re-evaluate your house. Homeownership is perhaps the biggest monthly expense we have. Not only are you responsible for a mortgage, but you have to pay for utilities, expenses, and insurance. Consider downsizing into a smaller home in a less-expensive neighborhood (or even state) to save more for retirement.

Creating a Vision for Retirement

What will our retirement look like?

In our role as financial planners, we often work with couples who never discussed their vision for retirement with each other. While it’s a common scenario, it is a recipe for conflict when visions clash. That’s why we believe couples should discuss their goals for retirement as soon as they decide to start the retirement process. Download our worksheet to create a shared vision for retirement that meets both your needs.

SECTION 3: Creating Retirement Income

How do we turn our retirement savings into retirement income?

If you’re like many people, you’ve spent your career saving for retirement but not necessarily thinking about how you’ll use that money once you do retire. Now that you are thinking about the when and how of your retirement, it’s important to understand your potential income sources and how taxes can affect them.

Here are some points to consider:

1. You will likely have more than one income source in retirement. They may include:

a.  Retirement accounts, such as an IRA or 401(k)
b.  Taxable accounts, such as a brokerage account
c.  Pensions
d.  Social Security benefits
e.  Dividends and other investment income
f.   Annuities
g.  Rents
h.  Royalties

2. You can use a health savings account (HSA) in retirement. Although not technically an income source, an HSA can help you pay for medical expenses.

3. You probably should have a larger cash reserve in retirement than you had in your working years since you won’t have a salary to pay for unexpected costs. Your reserve can also help serve as a cushion in times of down markets. Although we can’t make a recommendation for your specific situation without speaking with you, retirees generally should have a cash reserve worth one to two years of expenses.

4. Each of your income sources will have its own tax rules. Understanding those rules may seem complicated, but it can also be an opportunity. Although too complex a subject to discuss in detail here, financial planners often use strategies (such as determining the order in which withdrawals are made from various retirement accounts) to reduce how much their clients end up paying Uncle Sam. We suggest that you take the time to understand how your taxes will affect your income and the tax-saving strategies that may benefit you.


Getting Help with Your Retirement Plan

What kind of financial professional should we use?

You have many options when it comes to working with a financial professional. You could go with a bank, a broker, or an RIA. You could also sign up with an automated online service or even do it yourself. How do you pick the right choice for you? Use our decision tree to determine the option that best meets your needs.

SECTION 5: Get Answers to Your Retirement Questions

Who can we talk to about our specific situation?

Retirement planning can be complicated. IRAs, 401(k)s, Social Security, Medicare, taxes, long-term care—your plan should address all your needs. We believe that one of the best ways you can achieve peace of mind that you are making the right decisions about your retirement is to speak to a professional financial advisor. The advisor should take the time to understand your specific situation and discuss how they could help you address red flags and achieve your goals.

We offer a complimentary consultation with no strings attached. Simply schedule a time to speak with a retirement planning specialist.

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