Countdown to retirement: One year to go

Retirement » Countdown to retirement: One year to go

No. 1: Plan the transition
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No. 1: Countdown to retirement – plan the transition © Monkey Business Images/

No. 1: Plan the transition

As life transitions go, retirement ranks way up there among the most challenging, both financially and emotionally. Because it's such a big change, you need to plan carefully to navigate your way to a successful retirement.

Many decisions carry financial and life-planning implications. Should you sell the house and downsize? Will you have enough money to pursue travel plans and hobbies? How do you want to spend your time? "Set goals," says Leslie Tayne, an attorney in New York. "Plan out what you want your retirement to be like to determine if you have the funds to make it happen."

After a lifetime of work, you may have mixed emotions about retirement -- looking forward to not working but nervous about leaving your work identity behind. That's common, says William D. Pitney, a financial adviser and coach with FocusYou in Santa Rosa, California. "The transition to retirement is a period of incredible stress," he says.

Because retirement can be so stressful, Jeff Vollmer, a financial adviser with Hyde Park Wealth Management in Cincinnati, advises clients to begin planning five years in advance. If that isn't possible, a one-year time frame can work if you are focused and decisive.

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Countdown to retirement: One year to go


Just 365 days to go before retirement.

It might seem like you are cruising into the sunset, but the year before you retire is filled with a number of decisions and potential challenges.

At the top of the list is the question when to take Social Security. Additional dollars come into play when delaying benefits until full retirement age between 65 and 67.

You'll need to apply for Social Security three months in advance of the time you want to begin receiving payments.

Medicare is also complex. And enrollment dates differ depending on the part of Medicare you are enrolling in.

Then there's budgeting. Take a hard look at your current and expected future expenses. If necessary, be prepared to downshift your spending to match your post-retirement income. Shedding your mortgage payment by your retirement is an ideal goal, if at all possible.

Finally, dial back the risk on your retirement portfolio. You want your retirement nest egg to survive as long as you do, and for both, hopefully that's a long time.

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