Pre-Planning Your Retirement
If you’re like many Americans, you’ve probably enrolled in a
401(k), Roth IRA, or other investment vehicle in the hope of one day enjoying
the fruits of your labor. But just putting money aside for a later date isn’t
enough. You need a strategy to grow those savings to carry you along the road
ahead. Determining whether or not you’ve planned wisely enough to enjoy a
comfortable retirement requires a critical look at several important variables.
If you haven’t developed a plan yet, remember that it’s never too late to begin!
Know your ideal retirement
For some, the idea of retirement conjures up images of relaxing and enjoying the
finer things in life. Others might prefer to remain active, by working a
part-time job or volunteering for a local charity. Whatever the case, the
lifestyle you choose will determine how much money you’ll need to carry you
through your golden years. Do you know what your daily life during retirement
will look like? Where will you live? How will you spend your time? How much will
this cost? These are all questions to consider. Through answering these
questions, you can begin to lay the foundation for an ideal retirement.
Consider your life expectancy
The Center for Disease Control estimates that the average 65-year-old can expect
to live another 18.4 years. This means that many people could outlive their
savings, even if they have planned for retirement. Because you cannot rely on
psychic ability or a horoscope to predict the future, it is important to select
a realistic life expectancy, based upon gender, age, and family history.
Consider making plans toward the optimistic end of the scale; after all,
nobody’s ever become disadvantaged if the money outlives him or her.
Account for rising medical costs, including long-term care
As you get older, health problems and health care premiums will increase.
Industry experts predict that medical costs will rise around 15 percent
annually, and with Medicare covering a smaller and smaller percentage of the
cost for these services, you can expect to pay a high out-of-pocket price for
them. A 2006 Fidelity Investments study determined that a retired couple without
an employer-sponsored health insurance program could anticipate spending
$200,000 on medical expenses during the course of retirement. For these reasons,
you should allocate a large portion of retirement savings to cover this expense.
Another point to consider is covering the cost of long-term care. The U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services predicts that today’s 65-year-old faces
at least a 40-percent risk of entering a nursing home And, according to a 2006
cost of care survey by Genworth Financial, the average annual cost for a private
room in a nursing home is around $70,000. Therefore, if you are among the large
number of individuals who will need to receive care in a nursing home, you face
the possibility of depleting your assets at an accelerated rate, without
adequate resources earmarked for long-term care. Though it is not the inevitable
outcome for everyone, it should be accounted for when planning for retirement.
It is especially important for women, who tend to outlive their husbands.
One possible solution is long-term care insurance (LTCI). It can help cover the
costs that Medicare and Medicaid don’t for extended care at home or in an
assisted facility. And, though national statistics indicate that less than 10
percent of Americans have purchased LTCI, it can protect your retirement nest
egg, and preserve assets for your spouse and children.
Determine your retirement date
If you’re like many individuals who are approaching retirement, you’ve asked
yourself: When should I retire? The answer depends upon how well you have
planned. Considering all of the possibilities and analyzing the nature of your
retirement needs will lead you to the correct answer. Take the time to think
about your current and future financial situations. Complete a net-worth and a
cash flow statement Employee Benefit Research Institute’s with a financial
professional—these are two of the many methods to help you assess your financial
position. It might be advantageous for some individuals to retire later than
previously expected, or to take on a part-time job. The longer you work, the
more time you have to continue to save.
Consult a financial professional
Forty-four percent of respondents in the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s
2006 Retirement Confidence Survey cited “guessing” as their method for
calculating retirement needs. But the transition into retirement is too
important to rely on arbitrary assumptions—it requires a detailed analysis of
your current financial situation and future needs. A second opinion is always
important, especially when your financial well-being is involved. Sit down and
discuss your options with a financial professional.
These issues represent only a small fraction of the complexities involved in
planning for the next phase of your life. If you think you are behind the
planning curve, try not to be discouraged. Solid professional guidance can help
get you on the right track. Remember—the sooner you begin preparing, the quicker
you can enjoy what the future holds.