Planning for Retirement Important Questions to Ask Yourself

Are you getting ready to start preparing for your retirement years?  Whether you are 30 years old or 50 years old, this is an important step to take.  Planning for your retirement doesn’t have to be hard, but there are a number of bases that you must have covered to see success.  

To make sure that you are on the right track to seeing the retirement future you always dreamed of, there are a number of important questions that you will first want to ask yourself.  The answers to these questions are important when developing a retirement savings plan.

When do you want to retire?  The date you would like to retire is important, as that is your goal date.  To retire when you want to, your goal of saving a specific amount of money must be met.  When setting this date, it is important to be realistic.  If you haven’t saved any money for retirement, it is highly unlikely that you can be set for life in as little as a year or two.  That is why you are encouraged to start the planning process as early as possible.

Can you afford to retire when you want to?  As previously stated, it is important to be realistic with your retirement goals.  To help ensure that you are financially prepared and not left disappointed, determine when you can afford to retire.  If the two dates don’t match, you may be able to meet your goal by increasing your savings or living on a fixed income.  For your own protection, do not retire until you are financially prepared to do so. 

What kind of retirement lifestyle are you seeking?  This is one of the most important questions you will ask yourself.  Why?  Because it gives you a savings goal.  Of course, it is important to estimate the cost of your living expenses, but what about your wants?  Do you want to spend your days vacationing along the beach?  Do you want to take up a hobby like boating?  Would you like to start your own business?  If so, try estimating the cost of these adventures.  This can help you determine how much money you need to have saved to “safely,” retire. 

Am I making use of my company’s 401(k)?  Are you employed?  If so, do you have a 401(k) through your workplace?  If you are employed full-time, you should.  Are you contributing to your account?  If not, this is a step that you must start taking now.  It doesn’t matter whether you want to retire in 20 years or in 5 years, any bit of money that you can put aside will help.  This is particularly true if your company matches your 401(k) contributions, as you are, essentially, receiving free money. 

Should I open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA)?  The answer to this question is yes.  If you don’t already have an IRA, get one and right now.  IRAs are much safer than traditional savings account, as you are less likely to dip into your account and use or “borrow,” the money.  An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) also provides you with tax benefits.

What benefits will I be provided with and how much?  It is important to know how much you will receive in social security benefits.  The good news is that this information is easy to verify with a phone call to social security offices.  If you are relatively young, such as under the age of 30, remember that changes may take place that may lessen the amount of social security your were projected to receive.

Am I in debt?  If you are in debt, now is the time to start taking action.  Debt can have a negative impact on your retirement goals and dreams, especially when debt collectors come knocking on your door or even take you to small claims court.  That is why you should never enter into retirement when you have unpaid bills.  Instead, create a budget for yourself.  The money that you are able to save can be spilt to repay your old debts, as well as add more money into your retirement savings.