Even if you saved diligently through your career, you’ll probably want to adjust your strategy as you take the last lap before retirement. The final years of your career can give you time to refine your approach, improve your position and catch up on savings.
Here are four tweaks for a strong finish on your homestretch:
- Sharpen your vision. Hopefully, you started putting money away in your younger years. Perhaps you knew you should save systematically to achieve your retirement goals, but you probably had only a vague idea of what those goals were. Now, years later, the picture should be clearer. Try to envision what the coming decades look like. Do you want to work part time and continue to generate income? Do you want to travel, golf every day or own a summer home? Each of these options has a different price tag.
- Re-examine your budget. You can base this on your current expenses, but take special note of the changes that come when you break away from a full-time job. On the plus side, you may collect Social Security or a pension. Also be aware some costs may increase. If you have more time on your hands, your new leisure activities could put a dent in your pocketbook.
- Make up ground. The last decade or so of your working career is a great time to boost your retirement cushion. These tend to be peak earning years, so put those extra dollars to work. Take advantage of “catch-up contributions” allowed by most retirement accounts, including employer retirement accounts and IRAs. Also build up a cash reserve to help you weather the changes in your income stream. While having enough in your emergency fund to cover three to six months in anticipated expenses is sufficient earlier in your career, you may want expand that to 12 months now, just in case.
- Cut your financial obligations. Paying down your debt and limiting your financial burdens are important steps to assuring your retirement. “If you can pay off your house, car and other significant debts before you retire, then you’ll have more flexibility and fewer worries when your income stream is reduced,” says JJ Montanaro, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ with USAA.
In the race toward a secure retirement, plan ahead to help make sure you finish strong and enjoy a post-career future without financial hardships.