By Jonathan S. Kuttin
Outside of your 20s, your 60s may be one of the decades in which you face the most significant lifestyle and financial changes – so it’s normal to experience mixed emotions about money and retirement. You’ve either reached the traditional retirement age or are almost there, and may be excited and hopeful about what’s to come. At the same time, you may be anxious about your ability to fund the retirement of your dreams. The key is to keep a close eye on your finances and adjust your plans as needed. Here are five tips for people who are nearing this important milestone:
Evaluate your expenses and budget. It may seem simple, but do you have a solid grasp on your expenses? During your working years, it can be easy to think you’ll make up for overspending the next time you receive a paycheck. During retirement, you’re unlikely to have that luxury. Know what it costs to cover the essentials and examine how much you’re spending on discretionary items. Also, consider areas where your expenses may fluctuate up and down during the coming years — such as health care, recreation and travel.
Replace your paycheck. One of the smartest and most reassuring things you can do in retirement is to replace a regular paycheck so you have a predictable amount of income every month, similar to during your working years. The process can be complicated, especially if you want to structure your withdrawals in the most strategic and efficient way. A financial advisor and tax professional can help. It’s a good idea to create a written plan — if you haven’t done so already — so you have a road map to follow in the years ahead.
Review your portfolio. If you feel nervous about your invested assets, take a close look at your portfolio and how your investments may have fluctuated since the recession. It’s beneficial to know exactly where you stand and to evaluate how your assets are allocated to a variety of investments that provide the potential for growth, income, or preservation. If you need to rebalance your portfolio or move some funds to less volatile products, do so. It’s essential that you take a balanced approach to managing your investments, especially as you approach and begin your retirement years.
Be rational. It may be difficult to avoid the constant stream of economic news, but don’t let market swings and political back-and-forth cloud your judgment. Stay away from quick fixes or impulsive decisions, like purchasing excessively risky assets, selling your home or withdrawing all of your money from liquid investments. Work to stabilize your personal financial situation and consult with friends or family who are also preparing for retirement. Having a support network may help ground your emotions.
Prepare for the unexpected. If you don’t already have a will, put it at the top of your to do list. If you have one in place, make sure it still reflects your current wishes. In addition, check to see that all your beneficiary information is up-to-date on specific accounts, such as IRAs. Make sure to discuss your plans with your spouse or significant other and your children — and ensure they know where to find your financial documents if you die or are unable to make financial decisions for yourself. These can be difficult conversations for everyone involved, but they can also reduce the amount of stress you and your family may face later on.
It’s a good idea to stay in close contact with your financial advisor during these crucial years. A financial advisor can help you manage your immediate expenses with a budget and provide guidance on your long-term goals.
Jonathan S. Kuttin is a Private Wealth Advisor with Kuttin-Metis Wealth Management, a private advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. in Melville. He specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies, and has been in practice for 19 years.