The best way to ensure a happy retirement is to plan for it and, of course, the earlier the better. No matter where you are in your working life, you can take steps now to help create a viable and rewarding retirement. In fact, the more you learn about your retirement options, the clearer you can be about what makes sense for you.
The following checklist will help you get started on planning the financial aspects of retirement.
Planning for Retirement
- What do I want my retirement to look like? What will I do with my time? (For some guidance, see Nolo's article What Will You Do When You Retire?)
- How much money do I need to retire? (Use our Calculator: How much do I need to fund my retirement? to find out how much your savings will add up to.)
- How long will my retirement savings last? (Use our Calculator: How long will my retirement savings last? to find out how long you can spend a certain amount without depleting your savings.)
- At what age can I afford to retire? Do I want to ease into retirement by working part-time, on a freelance basis, or from home? (For some interesting reading, see Nolo's article How to Live Below Your Means During Retirement.)
- How can I save money in retirement? (To save money on taxes, see Nolo's article Top Tax Deductions.)
- What should I do to prepare for my retirement? (For some tips, see Nolo's article Plan For a Healthy Retirement.)
- How do I check my Social Security earnings and benefits? How are my Social Security benefit amounts calculated? (For information, see Nolo's article Social Security: Checking Your Earnings and Benefits.)
- When do I file for Social Security benefits? When do I file for Medicare benefits? (To find out, see Nolo's article File for Social Security Benefits.)
- When can I start collecting Social Security retirement benefits? If I delay retirement, will my checks be bigger? Can I keep a job even after I start collecting retirement, dependents', or survivors' benefits? (For more information, see Nolo's article Social Security FAQ.)
- Can I take money out of my retirement plan early? (For information, see Nolo's article Getting Your Retirement Money Early -- Without Penalty.)
- Can I borrow from my retirement plan to buy a house? (For information, see Nolo's article Finding a Down Payment to Buy a House.)
- What happens to my retirement plan when I die? (For information, see Nolo's article Help Your Family Claim Retirement Benefits.)
- When do I stop contributing to the plan and start withdrawing from it? Depending on the type of plan, you may not have to take mandatory withdrawals. (For information, see Nolo's article Retirement Plan Myths.)
There are plenty of ways to do retirement, just as there are plenty of ways to do a career. You can leave your career, but turn your hobby into part-time work, or you can stop working altogether. Your goal should be to create the ideal vision for your life, your needs, your desires and, if applicable, your family. Whether you want to use your retirement to sail around the world or lie on the couch and read romance novels, it's important to know what you want and put a plan into place to get it.
Want to Learn More?
For more help with planning for (and enjoying!) retirement, consult the following resources from Nolo:
- Get a Life: You Don't Need a Million to Retire Well, by Ralph Warner
- IRAs, 401(k)s & Other Retirement Plans: Taking Your Money Out, by Twila Slesnick and John C. Suttle
- Work Less, Live More: The Way to Semi-Retirement, by Bob Clyatt
- Social Security, Medicare & Government Pensions: Get the Most Out of Your Retirement & Medical Benefits, by Joseph L. Matthews and Dorothy Matthews Berman.