Here’s what to do now, when retirement is on your horizon


  1. Spending Your Time: What will you do during the first 12 months in retirement? What will you do in the next 5 years of retirement?
  1. How much money you will need: Include periodic expenditures such as gifts, travel, taxes, new car, home renovation and emergencies. 
  1. Sources of income: Make sure this is larger than your monthly spending from above.
  1. Healthcare: You’ll have no employer to pay this for you — money for Medicare supplemental insurance (also known as “Medigap”) and private health insurance policies will come out of your pocket. 
  1. Investment Strategy: The way you’ve handled your investments the past 30 years is probably not how you should handle them for the next 30. In retirement, you need to focus on income and keeping pace with increasing cost of living. Assets must be flexible and liquid so you can cover costs you do not anticipate.
  1. Long-Term Illness: Should you purchase insurance or consider using your home value to self-insure?
  1. Social Circle: Who will you spend time within retirement (other than your spouse)? If your current social circle is only co-workers, you should start expanding your friend network.  Look for a coffee group or folks with similar hobbies. 
  1. Mortgage: With recent changes to the tax code, you may not be able to deduct mortgage interest payments. Understand the pros and cons of paying off your mortgage.
  1. Rainy Day Fund. Make sure your rainy-day fund is enough to cover six months of expenses.
  1. Estate Plan. Review your Will and Trust. Don’t have them? Get them. These documents protect you and your assets while you are alive and benefit your spouse and children after you pass on.
  1. Are you excited about retirement: If you are not excited about retiring, don’t. Some people become bored after retiring. It’s OK — even exciting — to return to school or the workplace. Many do this, often in completely new fields.
  1. Medical Procedures: If you can, consider having all major medical procedures done while you are still working, so you can start retirement healthy and pain free.
  1. Home Remodel: If a home remodel is in your plan, do it before retiring.
  1. New Habits: If your retirement goals are to exercise more and eat healthy, start these habits today, before you retire.
  1. Consumer Debt: Pay it off before you retire. Your home mortgage should be your only debt.
  1. Social Security: Have a plan for when you will take social security and understand the pros and cons for taking it early or waiting.
  1. Pension: Make sure to analyze the pros and cons of beneficiary benefits when you have a spouse.
  1. Taxes: Understand your tax obligations, both on the income you receive (from your IRA), and from Social Security and Medicare “Income tax”.