6 steps to low-stress retirement

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If you are feeling stressed out about your ability to retire, financial planner Bijan Golkar, vice president and senior adviser
 with FPC Investment Advisory near San Francisco, says you’re not alone.

Golkar says retirement planning-related high anxiety doesn’t just afflict those with modest incomes and savings. “I have clients with $3 million portfolios who aren’t sure that they can retire,” he says.

Whatever a client’s income level, Golkar advises them to take similar steps.

  • Track your income. For at least a month write down every dime you spend. Use that as a starting point. “It’s enlightening,” Golkar says. “People really see where their money goes.”
  • Make a budget. Take the information that you’ve tracked and combine it with information you glean from last year’s credit card statements and tax returns to estimate total spending. Be sure to include the extras, like the cost of vacations or how much you give the grandkids, Golkar advises.
  • Consider the cost of healthcare. Health insurance is “ridiculously expensive,” Golkar says. He tells people that while they can’t plan for every eventuality, having an idea of how they’d pay for care following a debilitating accident or illness should be part of their plan.
  • Add up savings and other assets. If you do this when you have at least five or 10 years to go, you’ll have time to make adjustments and even double down on your savings strategy.
  • Calculate retirement income. Get pension estimates and figure out your approach to Social Security. Golkar says most people either want to take Social Security right away or they want to delay until age 70. He advises many people to choose a middle ground, so they can enjoy their lives while they are still fairly young.
  • Figure out cash flow. Adjust until you’ve satisfied yourself that you have a plan that works.

“Some people try to get down to the nitty-gritty,” Golkar says. “I tell them, you’re not going to have a perfect game. All you are trying to do is reassure yourself that you aren’t taking too much risk or too little, so you can enjoy life and not stress out.”