Dos and Don’ts on Preparing for Retirement

As baby boomers near retirement, many are discovering that they aren’t yet financially prepared to leave their careers. Moving from a full-time job to a life of travel, volunteer work and time spent with family and friends may seem like a natural next step. For those who are still determining how they’ll fund their retirement, however, cutting the strings of employment may not look so appealing.

Here are several sobering facts from the New Retirement Mindscape® 2012 City Pulse index1, an annual survey that examines retirement readiness among individuals in 30 of the largest U.S. cities: Just 63 percent of respondents say they’re saving for retirement. What’s worse, only 37 percent of respondents nationwide say they feel “on track” to retire, and just 11 percent say they were able to retire earlier than planned because they were financially able to do so.

Here are some important do’s and don’ts designed to help you move toward punching the clock for the last time and living a happy, healthy retirement.

Do strive to be debt free upon retirement.

This involves making well-planned, wise choices — and sometimes making trade-offs — during your last 10 to 15 years of your career. If possible, maximize funding into your 401(k) plan before refinancing or adjusting your 30-year mortgage to a 15-year term in order to retain the tax advantages available to you that come with saving for retirement. That might mean focusing on savings vs. paying off a mortgage or other long-term debt.

Don’t assume your retirement will be “traditional.”

In recent years, baby boomers have redefined what “retirement” really means. Some choose to work part time or start a career in which they’re really passionate about. If you aspire to have a part-time career, start laying the foundation now. Identify what you hope to do as well as the companies or organizations that might benefit most from your experience.

Don’t disregard your health.

As we age it becomes more important to carefully monitor our physical and mental well being. Obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are the most common health issues in America. So get an annual physical and health screening and talk to your doctor about any health concerns you may have and what the future costs may be so you can accurately plan for them in your retirement savings.

Don’t underestimate.

When determining your retirement expenses think about the rising costs of health care, gasoline and travel (just to name a few) that you’ll continue to consume in retirement. Remember to create some contingency plans to cover unforeseen expenses. You likely won’t regret saving a little extra now for your retirement years rather than not having what you will need once you leave the workforce.

It may be a bumpy ride to retirement, but the surest way to feel confident about your future is to plan for it right now.

For info, contact Michael W.K. Yee at (808) 952-1240.

1 The Money Across Generations IISM study was commissioned by Ameriprise Financial, Inc. and conducted by telephone by GfK in December 2011 among 1,006 affluent baby boomers (those with $100,000 or more in investable assets); 300 parents of baby boomers; and 300 children of baby boomers at least 18 years old. The margin of error is +/- three percentage points for the affluent boomers segment and +/- six percentage points for the parents and children of boomers segments.

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