According to data collected by Live Science, only 41% of Baby Boomers retired when they thought they would. Fifty one percent retired earlier than expected. The top two reasons for early retirement? Poor health and a lack of job opportunities. 8% retired later than they had planned, often because they needed the money.

It’s important to save for retirement as soon as possible. Your investing power is always greater today than it is tomorrow. The sooner you start saving and investing, the more time you give your money to grow. However, simply saving isn’t enough: you need a plan for retirement. You also need a contingency plan should you have to retire earlier or later than you had originally planned. Some things might be easy to plan for, but certain aspects of your retirement may not become clear to you until you’re closer to retirement. And of course, things can change during retirement.

That said, don’t let uncertainty or the possibility of change deter you from making a plan; just be sure you can adjust in case of emergencies or other special circumstances. Even if you’re currently retired, you should make contingency plans if you haven’t already. For example: what will you do if your taxes or health care costs increase, or if your investments go through a down period?

When you create your retirement plan, make sure you have a savings goal and an investment plan to reach that goal. You should also budget for all the retirement expenses you can think of, including: living arrangements, groceries, hobbies/entertainment, transportation, healthcare costs, debt, and taxes. You’ll also need to create a plan to manage your money during retirement. This means setting a savings withdrawal rate and creating a management strategy for your investments during retirement. And don’t forget to include alternatives and contingencies should the need to adjust your plan arise.

(Make sure you regularly review and update your estate plan, too. The adjustments you make during retirement could affect your will or Revocable Living Trust.)

If you haven’t started investing for retirement yet and aren’t sure how to begin, an IRA may be the best place to start. However, check with your employer to see if they offer a retirement savings program, such as a 401(k) plan. If you have questions about your retirement investment options or aren’t sure where to begin with your retirement planning, feel free to leave us a comment or send us a private message. We’re happy to answer your questions.

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