What is Your Financial Life-Stage?

Checklist when starting to save:

  • Get informed. Come with your spouse to our free educational retirement workshops where you can learn more about preparing for retirement. Click here for the upcoming schedule.
  • Saving enough? Ask your Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) to estimate how much you need to save based on your situation.
  • Initial retirement plan. Work with your Certified Financial Planner to project your retirement in a plan.
  • Annual plan updates Monitor your progress and make necessary adjustments with your CFP® to be sure you are on track
  • Maximize savings. Use Roths, retirement accounts, and special strategies to make the most of your savings.
  • Automate. Set up your retirement contributions to transfer automatically, so you won’t have to think about it every month.
  • Cash cushion. Keep an emergency savings account to cover unforeseen expenses and gaps in income.
  • Mortgage analysis. Ask your CFP® to evaluate and discuss your mortgage interest rate and term.
  • Roth analysis. Check with your CFP® to see if Roth accounts would benefit you and your family.
  • Automate deadlines and age milestones. Sign up for the free age milestone reminder service here to make sure that you don’t miss any important deadlines
  • Spouse. Discuss retirement goals with your spouse – are you on the same path?
  • Protect your family. Plan with your CFP® to make sure your loved ones are taken care of.

Checklist for changing jobs:

  • All of the above. Make sure you can check off all the items in the “Starting to Save” checklist. If not, make a plan to start soon.
  • Checkup. Schedule a review meeting with your CFP® to go over all of the issues and opportunities associated with the change.
  • Health Insurance Benefits. Find out how long your coverage from your old employer lasts, and when your new coverage starts. Don’t allow a gap in coverage. Use COBRA to extend your old coverage if needed.
  • Rollover. Transfer your 401(k) or other retirement plan to your own IRA as soon as you can. Talk to your CFP® about how to do this and where to allocate your investments.
  • Knowledge is power. Come with your spouse to our free educational retirement workshops where you can learn more about preparing for retirement. Click here for the upcoming schedule.

Checklist for growing your retirement savings:

  • Your foundation. Even if you think you are doing well, make sure you can check off all the items in the “Starting to Save” checklist. If not, plan to make up anything missing.
  • Allocation. Take a risk tolerance test with your Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) to help determine your ideal investment allocation and strategies.
  • Protect yourself from Identity TheftSign up here for our free credit report system to check for unauthorized accounts or activity.
  • Strategize. Investing is more than just choosing some good accounts. Work with your CFP®to customize your investments to your individual financial resources, investment goals, risk tolerance, investing time horizon, and other relevant factors.
  • Create a plan. Your CFP® should design a plan that shows you exactly what you need to do, and when, in order to achieve your desired retirement.
  • Review schedule. Meet regularly (at least annually) with your CFP® to make any necessary changes to your allocation and investment strategies.
  • Sign up for exact-age alerts. Each quarter you will receive alerts for what financial steps you should be taking to avoid penalties and maximize your retirement resources. Click here for more information.

Checklist when nearing retirement (within 3 years):

  • The setup. The basics are even more important now. Review the previous checklists. Discuss with your Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) areas where there may be a shortfall.
  • Request a pension estimate from your employer, if applicable.
  • Social Security estimates. Get yours and your spouse’s from SSA.gov and include them in your plan.
  • Understand Social Security maximization. Decide when is best to start in your situation. We recommend that you attend our free workshop on Social Security strategies.
  • Investment Strategies. Are you invested in an allocation that is right for you? Work with your CFP® to find investments that offer the growth you need, but without taking unreasonable risk.
  • Make a Retirement Budget. Know how much it is going to cost you to live the kind of retirement that you have planned.
  • Retirement Goals. Discuss what fulfilling things you’d like to accomplish in retirement. You can only relax and play golf so much.
  • Confirm you have enough money. Do a full review of your retirement income plan with your CFP® to be sure you have enough money for a comfortable retirement and for the inevitable unexpected expenses. Make sure all parties agree that you won’t ever run out of money.
  • Estate Planning. Check with your advisor to be sure that you have done what you need, in order to leave your money to your loved ones, not to the IRS.
  • Housing. Decide where you want to live: same house? Downsize? Move to another area?
  • Define your retirement lifestyle. Will you travel the world? Eat out at nice restaurants? Or are you happy with your current lifestyle?
  • Confirm benefits. Check with your employer to know for sure what retirement benefits you have. Pension? COLA? Extended insurance?
  • Understand Medicare. We recommend that you attend our free workshop on Medicare strategies.
  • Pay off consumer debt All consumer debt (charge-cards, cars, home-equity loans) should be paid off. You don’t want to enter retirement saddled with a big load of debt. You want to earn interest in retirement – not pay it.
  • Pay off your house, if that is part of your plan. You can discuss the pros and cons with your CFP®.
  • Employment plan. Decide if you will fully retire, or work part-time. Have your part-time work already lined up. Be practical and realistic about your alternatives.
  • Health Insurance. If you’re not old enough for Medicare (65), you’ll need to have some other insurance plan that will eliminate a potentially disastrous gap.
  • Medicare Supplement insurance. Research your options and sign up for our workshop on Social Security and Medigap insurance. You sign up for this insurance three months before you turn 65.
  • Life Insurance. Work with your CFP® to determine if you still need it and make arrangements. Convert any group insurance if needed.
  • Obtain financing that will require a salary before you retire. (Refinance? Line of credit for emergencies? Cash reward credit card?)
  • Consider major home repairs. Such expenses are best made before retirement so they don’t throw off your retirement income planning.
  • Schedule of reviews. Meet more often with your CFP® to make any necessary changes to your financial plan, allocation, and investment strategies as you approach retirement.

Checklist at retirement time:

  • Use up any benefits from your employer that will expire. Get that last employer-paid vision or dental appointment scheduled.
  • Do a final run-through of your financial plan with your CFP®.
  • Apply for Social Security now, if that is part of your plan. But first learn about your options to maximize Social Security. We recommend you attend our free seminars.
  • Your disability insurance may need to be adjusted.
  • Your life insurance may need to be transferred or extended.
  • Consider long term care insurance which covers nursing facilities, home health care, etc.
  • Consolidate your retirement accounts under the supervision of your most trusted CFP®advisor, if you haven’t already.
  • Automate your retirement income so it comes into your checking account automatically every month.
  • Change your contact information for personal emails, bills, or subscriptions that are coming to your office.
  • Stop automatic contributions to your investments. You’ll soon be withdrawing instead.

Soon after retirement:

  • Avoid penalties and missed deadlines. Make sure that you are signed up for our free exact-age alerts.
  • Confirm that your income is coming as planned from all the anticipated sources.
  • Notify your car insurance. Your premiums may be lower without that daily commute.
  • Consider Roth IRA conversions. Project future taxes and discuss ways to reduce those taxes. Roths create a tax-free income for you and for your children if you set it up right.