By Daniella Rand
Preparing for retirement is a long, deliberate process. It is not something you can start and finish in the course of a weekend, or even a week off. Moreover, it is best done in consultation with a seasoned financial professional — unless you happen to be a seasoned financial professional yourself, in which case you have little reason to continue reading.
Let us assume that you have made little headway in your efforts to plan for retirement thus far. How can you get the process back on track?
These 10 steps will guide you. They are not the last word on retirement planning, but they will certainly set you down the right path.
1. Articulate Your Goals and Objectives
Articulate and prioritize your top investing goals and objectives. These will include objectives related to retirement, such as lifestyle choices and purchases you wish to make, as well as nearer-term objectives like funding your kids’ college education.
2. Assess Your Risk Tolerance
Take a risk tolerance questionnaire to determine the appropriate mix of investing instruments and asset allocations to include in your portfolio. Your tolerance will change as you age, so you will need to repeat this step more than once.
3. Find a Seasoned Financial Advisor
Arguably, you should do this before steps one and two, as a competent financial advisor should happily help you assess tolerance for risk and prioritize investing goals. But you should definitely get it done before proceeding any further.
4. Join Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans
Take advantage of any retirement plans offered by your employer, such as a 401(k) plan. Your contributions may be tax-deductible on your state and federal returns.
5. Maximize Your IRA Contributions
Maximize your IRA contributions, which may also be tax-deductible. Consult current IRS guidance for this year’s limits.
6. Pursue Additional Tax Minimization Priorities
Talk to your financial advisor and tax professional about other strategies to minimize your tax obligations and retain more of your hard-earned money. You may be leaving cash on the table.
7. Obtain Life Insurance
Protect your heirs with a life insurance policy adequate to replace your income and cover your debts should you pass away prematurely.
8. Get a Disability Insurance Policy
Disability insurance is another important layer of financial protection that activates if you become unable to work for a long period of time.
9. Make an Estate Plan
Get your affairs in order. Work with your financial advisor to find an estate planning attorney and draw up the necessary directives.
10. Focus on Your Career
Lastly, remember to keep things in perspective. As long as you continue to work, you will continue to earn. You will put some of those earnings to work in the market, where they’ll grow until you retire (and beyond). Anything you can do to maximize your earning potential during this period is welcome.
Retirement Is Right Around the Corner
Retirement is approaching faster than you realize. Even if you are closer to the beginning of your career than the end, you know that time comes for us all.
It is therefore in your best interest, and that of your family, to act with deliberate haste in developing and implementing a complete retirement plan. With the above, you have your marching orders. Time to follow through.