What’s Your Retirement Score?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how prepared are you for retirement?
Retirement planning is more than just deciding how you’ll spend your days when you’re no longer working. How will you pay for healthcare, for example? Have you considered inflation? Does the 4 Percent Rule work for you?
As fiduciary financial advisors in Atlanta, Georgia; Houston, Texas; and Birmingham/Huntsville, AL, the team at Linscomb & Williams have compiled the following questions to ask yourself, to see, just in fact, how prepared for retirement you really are.
For each question you can answer fully, give yourself 1 point. If you have an idea of how to answer a question but are not completely sure, give yourself half-a-point. If you have no idea how to answer a question, give yourself 0 points – and contact the fiduciary financial advisors at Linscomb & Williams to start a conversation!
1. Are You Contributing Enough to Your Plans?
If you have access to a 401(k), you can contribute up to $19,500 in pre-tax income per year (with an additional $6,500 for those 50 and over) in 2021. If you have an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), either Traditional or Roth, you can contribute up to $6,000, with an additional $1,000 if you’re 50 or over. Contributions to Traditional IRAs are deductible from your taxable income.
2. Are You Getting a Match?
If your employer offers a matching contribution to your 401(k) and you’re not taking advantage of it, you’re essentially leaving money on the table. It’s prudent to contribute the maximum you can, toward the matching level, if your employer offers a match.
Read our recent blog post: How to Manage Your 401(k).
3. Are You Invested Correctly Based on Your Risk Tolerance?
Stocks have appreciated nearly 10 percent annually over the past century, making them by far the most advantageous investment. But stocks are volatile, and especially in short periods of time, you can lose a lot of money – and sleep at night – if you’re not investing in accordance with your risk tolerance.
Your retirement portfolio should factor in your own risk tolerance, your age, and the stage you’re in on your financial journey.
Download our free eBook: How to Retire During Volatile Market Conditions.
4. Are You Saving Enough?
What are your plans in retirement? Traveling? Spending time with grandkids? Starting a business of your own? How much money will you need to make these dreams a reality? If you are eligible for Social Security, do you know how much you can expect to receive? Do you understand how working later in life can have an effect on your benefits? What about retiring early?
5. Have You Created a Retirement Budget?
A retirement budget is a crucial piece of assessing your preparation. You can’t tell whether you have enough income until you know your expenses!
Take your current budget and see where you can make adjustments. Some expenses, such as property taxes, are likely to remain the same (or increase slightly). Others, such as healthcare expenses, are almost certain to rise. Then there are the expenses, such as costs associated with commuting to and from work, that may vanish. You may have some new expenses in retirement too, such as those related to travel or hobbies.
The fiduciary financial advisors at Linscomb & Williams can help ensure you’re fully thinking through these variables and using accurate projections in your retirement planning efforts.
6. Are You Investing Enough to Make Up for Past Years?
The earlier you start saving for retirement, the more time your funds have to appreciate. While most people know this, many people don’t get started until later in life.
Another thing we’re seeing at Linscomb & Williams more recently is people who need to make up for years in which they couldn’t contribute as much as they had hoped. In 2020, for example, many people withdrew money from their retirement accounts to tide them over as unemployment climbed or healthcare needs became urgent.
Assess how much you have in your retirement accounts now versus how much you’ll need at retirement. If you’re 50 or over, take advantage of the catch-up contributions in 401(k)s and IRAs, if you can.
7. Have You Discussed Your Plans with Your Financial Advisor? Your Spouse? Your Family?
Whatever your plans are, it’s important to discuss them with your financial advisor, who can provide insight and advice of which you may not be aware, and can help establish a plan to meet your goals and monitor your progress.
It’s also a good idea to discuss those plans with your spouse and your family! Retirement doesn’t happen to one person alone! Are you and your spouse on the same page about retirement goals and savings? Your plans shouldn’t come as a surprise!
8. Have You Addressed Your Healthcare Needs?
Retirees have two basic healthcare needs.
The first is ensuring you’ll be able to cover healthcare insurance and healthcare costs. Remember, Medicare is not free! Healthcare costs have increased steeply in the last two decades, and these costs will likely continue to increase.
The second is a power of attorney. Designating an individual you trust to be given power of attorney to make healthcare decisions if you become too ill or incapacitated to do so, is extremely important. Here’s why.
9. Do You Know When You’ll Take Social Security?
You can commence taking Social Security benefits between the ages of 62 and 70. If you take them at 62, however, they can be up to 30 percent less than if you’d waited until you reached your full retirement age – and that reduction is permanent! (Your full retirement age is determined by your birthyear. You can find yours here.)
On the other hand, if you wait until age 70, the amount you receive will increase 8 percent annually, on average, for every year you wait after your full retirement age. These increases are also permanent.
In other words, when you start taking Social Security makes a big difference financially. Assess your financial needs, your health and your plans.
10. Are You Using Accurate Projections?
Projections are only good if they’re reasonably accurate. Review your budget, expenses, savings and asset allocations thoroughly. Account for inflation as well as your plans for retirement.
What’s Your Score?
If you scored 10, congratulations!
If you scored between 5 and 10, good work – but talk with a fiduciary financial advisor to make sure you maximize your preparation.
If you scored below 5, contact a financial advisor today to get yourself on track.