Although you will have various milestones in your life - buying a house, having children, getting married - one of the most substantial is your retirement. Assuming that you don’t want to have to work until you’re 80, you need to plan for this major step.
Unfortunately, too many Americans are unprepared, which means that they will wind up scrambling to figure out what to do when they retire. If you’re getting close to that age or you’re just wondering where to begin, let this article be your guide.
As a note, we’ll be talking about steps to take before and after retirement. Remember, retiring isn’t the end of the road; it’s the beginning of a whole new chapter. Don’t focus too much on what to do beforehand and then realize you don’t have an idea of what to do after.
No matter your age, the best time to plan for retirement is right now. Whether you’re 25 or 55, it doesn’t matter. However, the sooner you start, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Here are the top three goals you should have before reaching retirement age.
Individual retirement accounts, or IRAs, are some of the best options available for growing and managing your nest egg. There are two types of IRA’s, Roth and Traditional. We won’t get into too many details here, but here’s a brief breakdown of the primary difference between them (hint: it’s taxes).
This account is tax-deferred, which means that you don’t have to pay anything on the money when you put it away. Once you withdraw the funds, then you’ll have to pay taxes.
The primary benefit of a Traditional IRA is that you can deduct your contributions from your yearly earnings. So, if you’re trying to avoid getting into a higher tax bracket, or you just want to reduce your tax burden for the year, contribute as much as possible up to the maximum.
New rules mean that you can continue to put money into your IRA after 70.5. However, once you reach 72, you will have to take required minimum distributions (RMDs).
These are calculated based on some complicated formulas, but you don’t have a say in the matter. While you can put that money into a different investment account, it can’t stay in your IRA.
Unlike a Traditional IRA, you will have to pay taxes on the money when putting it away. However, this means that withdrawals are tax-free. So, if you want to save your tax burden in retirement, putting more money into a Roth can be a smart move.
The downside, however, is that you could make too much money to qualify for a Roth. People filing individually making between $124,000 and $139,000 (as of 2020) will have contribution caps. Anyone making over $139,000 can’t put money directly into a Roth. However, you can roll the money over from a traditional IRA, so keep that in mind (you’ll just have to pay taxes on it).
With both accounts, the maximum contribution limit in a given tax year is $6,000 in total (not for each IRA type) for 2020. If you’re over 50, you can put an additional “catch-up” $1000 per year. We highly recommend capping your limits every year, if possible. How you mix and match between Traditional and Roth IRAs is up to you, based on when you want to pay taxes.
Depending on when you start retirement planning, it may be challenging to figure out how much money you’ll be bringing in and spending during retirement. Realistically, you’ll have to start calculating these figures as you get closer since you’ll have a much better idea of the size of your nest egg.
That being said, you want to make sure that you take a comprehensive approach to planning. Here is a quick overview of which elements to include. Don’t worry if you don’t have numbers right now, or if they change later on. It’s better to have something in mind than nothing at all.
Ideally, your income will cover your expenses, meaning that you can use any saved funds for vacations and other one-time costs. If you have limited money coming in, be sure to calculate how long you have before your accounts run out.
Once you retire, it’s time to celebrate. However, so many people are looking forward to not working that they forget to come up with an alternative way to spend their time. Not only that, but you want to consider various goals to help your nest egg stretch farther, just in case.
Here are the top goals to achieve during your golden years.
Typically, individuals look to increase the size of their homes as they get older. Whether it’s for expanding your family or moving to a nicer area, a larger property does sound appealing. However, during retirement, it may be more than you bargained for.
Yards need to be maintained, rooms have to be cleaned, and taxes need to be paid. If you don’t require so much space during your later years, is it worth paying extra for it?
In some cases, you might want to leave the house for your children as part of your legacy planning (more on that later). However, if regular maintenance and upkeep are costly, you can consider moving to a smaller dwelling for a time to save on monthly expenses. As we’ll get into later in the article, you can even use your home as a revenue stream, so keep that in mind.
Now that you’re retired, what are your goals for the next 20 to 30 years? For many people, now is the time to travel, but you’ll want to think about alternatives as well. Presumably, you won’t be jet-setting around the world 12 months a year.
Some options for getting more out of retirement than free time include:
Wealth is more than simply having money. Wealth offers choices and freedom. It can empower you to invest in anything that supports your values, purpose, and goals. Learn more about how to create your own rich life.
Even if you’re not worried about running out of money in retirement, having passive income is always a good idea. You can put the funds toward an expensive trip or purchase (i.e., an RV), or you can save it for your kids. Here are a few ideas to generate extra money without having to punch a clock.
Death and estate planning should also be on your mind during retirement. What are you going to leave behind for your children? What about your spouse? Now is the time to start making moves regarding where your assets will be placed and how they will be distributed. Consider creating a trust to avoid probate, and be sure to talk to your loved ones so that they know what to expect.
Also, now is the time to think about your end-of-life expenses. Discuss your wishes as well so that there is no confusion or guilt. It may be a dark subject, but it’s better to talk about it now than later.
When it comes to managing your retirement funds, let the pros help. We can assist you with all aspects of retirement planning, from choosing the right accounts to building an investment portfolio. It’s never too early or too late to get started.
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