How to Retire With Security

Three Parts:Obtaining Financial SecurityBudgeting for RetirementPreparing in Other Ways

Retiring with security requires planning. The earlier you start preparing, the easier it becomes. Spend some time making a financial plan, budgeting for retirement, and considering other factors regarding leaving the workforce.

Part 1
Obtaining Financial Security

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    Learn about your pension plan. Some employers have traditional pension plans, where you're paid a set amount of money each year after retirement. Start learning about your employer's pension plan and how much money you'll get from it each year. You should also know what will happen to your pension plan in the event you change jobs. When budgeting for retirement, keep your pension plan in mind.[1]
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    Find a job with employer retirement benefits. The best way to retire with security is to find a job with retirement benefits. Ask your boss about what retirement benefits, if any, your job provides.
    • 401(k) accounts, which allow you to put pre-tax money from your paycheck towards retirement, are your best bet for securing retirement funds. Ask your boss about 401(k) and similar options provided. Look into how much you're putting away each year. Putting $50 to $100 per paycheck towards your retirement will really add up over time. Also, some employers match 401(k) contributions if you've been employed for a certain amount of time.[2]
    • 403(b) plans are similar to 401(k) plans, but they are for employees of nonprofit organizations. If you work for a public schools system, hospital, home health service agency, welfare service agency, or church, you may be able to enroll in a 403(b) plan.[3]
    • 457 plans are like 401(k) plans for state and local government employees. The benefit to a 456 plan is that the employer may also offer a 401(k) retirement plan, and the employee has the option to contribute to both a 457 and 401(k) toward his retirement.[4]
    • A Roth 401(k) plan combines elements of a traditional Roth IRA with a 401(k) plan. Your contributions will not be tax-deductible; however, if you withdraw from the plan when you are older than 59 1/2 and have had the plan for over five years, then the distributions are given tax-free.[5] You can also contribute more to a Roth 401(k) than you can to a traditional Roth IRA. You also don't have any limitation on when you start taking distributions from the Roth 401(k) (other plans require you to begin taking them by age 70 1/2).[6]
      • The benefit of pre-tax investing depends upon your tax brackets now and in retirement. You'll want to pay taxes on your investment when your marginal tax rate is lowest.[7]
    • The SIMPLE plan (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees) is often offered by smaller employers. Employee contributions are tax deductible, and the employer can make matching contributions of up to 3% of the employee's salary.[8]
    • A SEP plan (Simplified Employee Pension) is another plan that makes it easy for small businesses to set up retirement funds. It has the same investment, distribution, and rollover requirements as traditional IRAs, but employees can contribute up to 25% of their salary.[9]
      • Rollovers are tax-free transfers of retirement funds between employers, assuming the rollover qualifies. Both the original and new employer retirement plan must allow for rollovers in order for this to work.[10]
    • Not every place of employment provides retirement benefits. If your job does not, you could begin searching for a job that does make these offers. However, you could also suggest your boss start some kind of retirement benefit plan. This could be a great way to attract new, talented employees. If you've been with the company a while, and your boss values your work, you might suggest she start providing retirement benefits.[11]
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    Make contributions automatically. If you're putting money into a 401(K), pension plan, or individual account talk to your bank, boss, or personal accountant about automatic payments. This will eliminate the temptation of spending money and force you to put money away for retirement. Even setting aside a small amount of money for automatic savings will add up over time.[12]
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    Put money into an individual retirement account. If you don't have a retirement plan through your boss, or if you simply want extra, consider an individual retirement account. This is an account you can set up and add money to each year. You can add a maximum of $5,500 a year into an individual retirement account (be aware that this is not a fixed number and can change from year-to-year). If you're over the age of 50, you can put even more money into your account. Talk to an accountant about the possibility of an individual retirement account and how much you should be putting away to retire with security.[13]
    • You can participate in an employer 401(k) and an IRA at the same time.
    • Traditional IRAs contributions are made on a pre-tax basis and then are taxed at distribution. Roth IRAs are taxed at contribution and then have untaxed distributions. Roth IRAs are also subject to contribution limits based on your income, whereas traditional IRAs are not.[14]
    • Be aware that there may be deduction limits for your IRA if you or your spouse are covered by a retirement plan at work and your income is over $61,000 (if you are single) or $98,000 (if you are married).[15]
    • A common rule of thumb is to save 10–15% of your personal income each year, starting in your early 20s. However, this is just a general guideline. Your specific needs may mean you need to save more.[16]
    • You can find many retirement calculators online that go over how much you need to save given things like your 401(K), medical needs, pension plan, and so on. If you're unsure how much you should be putting away, consider trying an online calculator to get a range.[17]
    • Investment choices should be made to balance risk and return. Younger people can take higher risk than those approaching retirement, as investment risk is effectively reduced in the long run.
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    Stick to your savings goals. Once you've made a savings plan, stick with it. Set yourself personal goals each month and year regarding how much money you'll set aside. Stick to these terms and avoid the temptation of spending money rather than putting it aside. Keep in mind that a small sacrifice in the present means you can enjoy financial security after retirement.[18]

Part 2
Budgeting for Retirement

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    Avoid dipping into your retirement savings. If you're strapped for cash one month, it can be tempting to dip into your retirement. However, try to avoid doing so unless absolutely necessary. Not only will you lose money you've been putting away, there may be withdraw charges and you might lose tax benefits.[19]
    • To avoid needing to use your retirement fund, set up an emergency savings account. Most financial professional suggest saving 3 to 6 months' worth of after-tax income in a savings account for emergencies.
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    Form a reasonable retirement budget. You'll need to form a retirement budget if you want to retire with security. Take into account how much money is coming in, how much you have in savings, and how much debt you'll be in, if any.[20] Financial planners generally recommend a retirement income equal to 75 to 80 percent of pre-retirement income.
    • For example, if you make $80,000 before retirement, you will need between $60,000 and $64,000 for each year of retirement.
    • Track your income and expenses for a couple of months to keep track of how much money you generally spend. You can find calculators online to help you estimate things like pension cost and 401(K) benefits through websites like the IRS and AARP.[21]
    • If you have any debt, such as a mortgage, take monthly payments into consideration. Using all this information, get a sense of roughly how much you should spend each month.[22]
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    Look into potential sales of non work-related assets. You may have a variety of non-traditional assets you could use to fund your retirement. Do you collect old cars or antiques? Do you have any other collections that may have appreciated in value? You may also have skills you can make use of after retirement to make some extra money. You could teach music lessons, for example, if you're skilled at the piano.[23]
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    Figure out when you can collect social security. If you think you'll need to rely on social security payments after retirement, look into when you should start collecting. The amount of money you'll get from social security depends on your age, financial status, and other factors. For the most part, the longer you wait to claim benefits the better they'll be. You can use the AARP's Social Security Benefits Calculator to get a better sense of when you should begin collecting.[24]
    • Coordinate with your spouse's benefits to maximize your total benefits. The best strategy here will depend your preretirement earnings and retirement needs.
    • For example, a higher-earning spouse can file for benefits at an early age (before 70) and then suspend them, allowing the other spouse to earn spousal benefits while not reducing their own benefits.[25]
    • Be sure to research any possible changes in SS rules and benefits.

Part 3
Preparing in Other Ways

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    Prepare for college expenses. If you plan to support your children through college, you'll need incorporate saving for this expense into your overall saving plan. Like with retirement, it's best to start contributing to a college fund early on. Every state offers 529 "qualified tuition program" plans that provides tax benefits and investment plans to help parents save for college. Meet with a qualified financial advisor to set up a 529 plan and assess the amount of money you might need to cover future college expenses.
    • While college expenses can be paid for with your retirement fund, there are always options, including work-study programs and student loans. Any money you take out of your retirement account is money not earning interest that will eventually be used to support you in retirement.[26]
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    Take care of your health. You'll want to make sure you're in good health prior to retirement. Some simple preventative care can go a long way to a happy, secure retirement.
    • Before you retire, make sure you're up to date on all annual screenings. It's a good idea to do a number of health exams, recommended for someone your age, if your insurance coverage will run out with retirement. Even with new insurance, your coverage might not be as good as it was previously.[27]
    • Refill any prescriptions that will no longer be covered. If you have dental insurance, get a dental exam and get any work you need.[28]
    • You should also figure out where your new health care will come from. At 65, you're eligible for Medicare. Look into applying the plans that work for you. Keep in mind if your children are under 26, they won't be covered by Medicare even if you are enrolled.[29]
    • There are Medigap insurance plans for non-covered expenses, such as copayments and deductibles on treatment. These plans are sold by private companies and require that you first have Medicare Parts A and B.[30]
    • There is a high probability that Medicare rules and benefits may be changed in coming years, so keep yourself abreast of changes that might apply to you.
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    Secure housing. Know what your housing situation will be before you retire. If you plan on taking out a mortgage, keep in mind it will be more difficult to apply when you're retired. One benefit to a mortgage, however, is that typically, rates are fixed. Rent, on the other hand, fluctuates with time.[31] Some people plan to have their home paid off by the time they retire for a reduction in expenses as well as peace of mind.
    • For those who have significant equity in home and no desire to pass physical assets to someone, reverse mortgages can be a way to gain additional financing for your retirement.
    • Reverse mortgages allow homeowners to convert their equity into cash payments and are available to those over the age of 62.[32]
    • For more on reverse mortgages, see how to get a reverse mortgage.
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    Consider long-term care insurance. Long-term care insurance (LTCI) provides coverage to policyholders in the event that they need long-term care in their old age. That is, if you need to be placed in a nursing home or hire a full-time nurse for your home, LTCI will cover these (general quite large) expenses. However, coverage comes at a steep price, as premiums may run as high as $3,000 per year even for health 50-year olds. Despite the expense, LTCI can be a good way to cover your care in old age and preserve your remaining assets for your children.
    • LTCI is a good investment if you are too wealthy to qualify for Medicaid (if you possess total assets, including you home, of more than $50,000 in most cases) but not wealthy enough to pay for your own care outright.
    • Experts advise buying LTCI around your early to mid-fifties.[33]
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    Look into prepaid funeral expenses. Prepaying funeral expenses can save your family from having to come up with this cost. Prepaid plans are available from funeral homes and may be paid in full or in installments. Make sure to get an itemized list of services included so get the services you want. Then, comparison shop between funeral homes in your area to make sure you're getting the best value for your money.
    • You can also consider cheaper options like cremation or save for funeral expenses on your own.[34]
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    Prepare for the emotional shift. Retirement can be an emotional time. It's a difficult transition as so much of our personal sense of fulfillment and social relationships are tied to work. Take some time preparing for this transition.
    • More and more people are reducing hours over time rather than abruptly retiring from full time to retired. This can ease the transition, help keep you intellectually engaged, and help fund your retirement.
    • Make a retirement plan for yourself outlining specific things you want to do. For example, write something like "I want to volunteer working with children at least 2 times a week." It might be a good idea to have a few trips planned ahead of time so you don't grow bored or frustrated in retirement.[35]
    • Make sure you find ways to stay connected with friends and family. If your social interactions mostly come from work, try joining clubs and organizations designed for the recently retired. If you don't have a Facebook page, it might be a good time to set one up. You can stay in touch with work acquaintances and friends online.

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Categories: Retirement