Who would’ve thought that financially planning for retirement should include an ongoing, 80-plus-year study by Harvard University and insight from Mickey Mantle? But it should.
Harvard and the late, great baseball star aside, there are solid, recommended ways to financially prepare for retirement that seem obvious, but still need to be said. We spoke to two Dayton-area financial advisors about what you should consider to help ensure a safe, happy, worry-free retirement:
Know what your income in retirement will be
There’s your pension, Social Security, investments, savings, IRAs, 401(k)s, and any other source of income to consider in making a financial plan to see you through retirement. “You need to get a clear picture of what your resources are going to be,” says Doug Kinsey, founding partner of Artifex Financial Group, with an office in Oakwood. This is closely followed by …
Know what your living expenses will be
“You need to get a clear picture of your goals in retirement and put a price tag on them,” Kinsey continues. If it’s travel, that needs to be projected. If it’s a continuing of routine expenses, such as replacing a vehicle every so often, that needs to be accounted for. And don’t forget to figure in inflation.
Pay off debt
To avoid debt siphoning off your fixed income, eliminate credit card payments, auto or other loans, and, if possible, your mortgage. This is easier said than done, but if accomplished, you’ll be more financially secure in retirement.
Again, this is easy to say but hard to do. Some financial analysts suggest examining your lifestyle and making changes, like eating out less, scaling back vacations, and generally sacrificing in the present to live more comfortably in the future. Also, for those working at companies with matching contributions to savings plans like 401(K)s, save the most you can to take advantage of that “free” matching money.
Beware of risk
Many take a chance on investments that have the potential to pay off well – or falter. But as they get closer to retirement, the potential might not be worth the risk. “In retirement, people should think of risk differently,” Kinsey says. “Many can’t weather the shocks of a downturn like they could in their earning years.” Invest accordingly.
Get a healthy dose of health insurance
The need for good-quality health insurance “is a big deal” in planning for retirement “that needs to be part of the budget,” says Jose “Rafi” Rodriguez, president of Rodriguez Financial Strategies LLC of Beavercreek. If carrying over health care from your place of employment, you need to see how it fits in with Medicare.
Don’t forget life insurance
If you have life insurance through your employer, that might end upon retirement. Be sure you replace that coverage, so if you die prematurely your family is provided for.
Relatedly, review your will and estate plan. “Think about your legacy,” Rodriguez recommends. “How do you want to be remembered? That’s where estate planning comes in -- that the good will you’ve done in your life will extend beyond your death, like which charities to support. It’s important to include estate planning in retirement planning.”
Speaking of which, it’s said the only two things assured in life are death and taxes. Don’t forget to account for the latter. “Get a clear picture of the tax scenario,” Kinsey suggests, “and how that will be different in retirement.” He says there are strategies to minimize taxes in retirement.
Which leads to…
It may seem self-serving, but experts remind people that if you’re not sure what to do – or even if you think you’re sure – consult a retirement planner. “I see people every day who think their retirement situation is simple,” Kinsey says, “but who haven’t thought through everything.” A planner “can set up guard rails to make sure retirement is successful and fulfilling.”
Rodriguez advises people to seriously think about retirement at least five or 10 years out, inventory assets and needs, “and work with a professional to get you where you want to be.”
The wisdom of Harvard and Mickey Mantle
A Harvard study that began in 1938 and continues today focuses on happiness and wellness – it is among the longest social studies in existence. It has found that as people age and retire, those who are secure financially aren’t necessarily happy. It found that happiness comes not so much from money, but from friends.
“A social network has a lot to do with happiness,” says Kinsey, who has a master’s from Harvard, and cited the study. “People devote themselves to their work and their careers, but they don’t develop friendships.” Friendships are important in retirement for happiness and health.
“Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism,” says the current study director. The greater overall lesson, he adds: “Take care of your body as though you were going to need it for 100 years, because you might.”
Or, as so famously credited to a then-aging Mickey Mantle after a long Hall of Fame baseball career: “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”
So be happy, healthy, and – by following these points – you’ll likely enjoy a nice, long retirement.