At some point most people become concerned about whether or not they will have enough money saved to afford their desired lifestyle in retirement. Few people can be absolutely sure if they’ll be financially prepared for the future, but there are steps you can take to ensure you are on the right track.
1. What do you want your retirement to look like? Before you can plan for retirement, you must decide what type of life you want. Will you travel? Will you do volunteer work? Will you work part-time? Will you be involved of certain hobbies? Answering questions like these will help you know how much income you will need throughout retirement. Most financial planners suggest preparing for 20 to 30 years of retirement.
2. Set a budget. Once you’ve determined what type of retirement you want, you will need to establish a budget that includes all your expected expenses. This includes things like housing, food, transportation, gifts, taxes and medical costs.
3. Review your future income sources. Look at the total picture. This includes social security, retirement plan and potential job income. Once you calculate your future total income, determine how much more you will need from your retirement plan to support your lifestyle.
4. Assess your current retirement contribution level and investments. The amount needed will depend on your future income needs. It takes two things to have adequate retirement income—time and money. The less you have of one, the more you will need of the other. Therefore, if your time before retirement is short, it will generally require larger contributions.
Then consider how your retirement is invested. Does it match your time horizon and risk tolerance? Generally, you want to use a well-diversified asset allocation that’s more aggressive while you’re younger and gradually shift to a more conservative investment approach as you approach your retirement years.
With careful planning, disciplined savings and expert assistance, a secure retirement is not out of reach. The most important step in being ready for tomorrow is to take action today.