According to a recent Gallup survey, most Americans expect to retire around the age of 66. If you want to start planning for this milestone, many financial and logistical variables must be considered. From where to live to how to afford your goals, it’s important to have a clear strategy. Whether you’re almost at retirement age or you still have a few more years to plan, here are six questions to ask right now to set yourself up for success. 

Is it a smart idea to sell my home?

Many retirees choose to downsize in this stage of life, with several benefits. From a convenience standpoint, a smaller living space means less to take care of, so you’ll have more free time to pursue the activities on your bucket list. Downsizing can make smart financial sense, too—it’s an opportunity to relocate to an area that’s much easier to afford on your fixed retirement income. Of course, when exploring this decision, you’ll also want to consider proximity to loved ones, recreational outlets, and healthcare facilities.  

How do I plan for future expenses?

A 2021 analysis from Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research found that 50 percent of U.S. retirees are at risk of being unable to maintain their pre-retirement lifestyles financially. Due to current inflation rates, it seems like everything is pricier these days, so it’s smart to calculate your projected retirement income and assets in advance. Once you have a solid estimate, you can create a realistic budget for all expenses and future goals. These calculations will also help you determine the savings you still need to accrue for retirement.

Who should I invite into decisions?

As you grow older, there are many logistics to contemplate, so it’s important to start having those serious conversations and making preparations with someone you trust (such as an adult child or younger relative, for instance). Choose wisely who you invite into these discussions as the person must be reliable and responsible enough to make medical, financial, housing, and other power of attorney decisions on your behalf. There will come a time when you can no longer live independently, so think about who will act in your best interest. 

When can I collect Social Security?

Because of current inflation and rising Medicare premiums, the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2023 is forecasted to be the highest in 40 years. This historic increase in benefits is excellent news if you plan to start collecting SSA shortly. Still, to maximize the monthly amount you’re entitled to collect, delay cashing out SSA as long as possible. While you can access SSA benefits at age 62, it’s ideal to wait until at least age 66. Holding out those extra four years can boost retirement wealth significantly. 

Do I need to hire a financial advisor?

You might hesitate to pay for a financial advisor on top of all the other costs you need to plan for. But the reality is that working with a financial advisor can now position you for financial success and long-term stability. A certified, reputable financial advisor will help you build a strong investment portfolio, grow your IRA or 401(k) assets, and save for retirement goals like a dream vacation and the eventual medical costs as you continue to age. That professional guidance will be a valuable resource upon entering retirement.

Should I think about senior living?

Contrary to the misconceptions you might have heard, a senior living community is not the same as an assisted care facility. Senior living is a personalized, self-supportive retirement experience that gives you access to all wellness amenities, enrichment programs, social activities, gourmet culinary options, and more. You’ll have a private, furnished apartment with full-service housekeeping, and you’ll be right down the hall from other residents in the same phase of life who just might become close friends as you embark on retirement together.    

Now Is the Time to Start Planning for a Successful Retirement

Whether you’re about to be a retiree or hope to reach this milestone within the next few years, the more you plan ahead right now, the more you can reap those benefits later on. The questions above will help you begin to think intentionally—and prepare strategically—for a successful retirement. After all, this stage of life should be fun, not stressful!


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