It's often said that retirement is a journey, not a destination. But what should you do when you're at the beginning of that journey? How can you make sure you're as prepared and as financially secure as possible?
Depending on your needs and goals, you'll want to make sure several things are at the top of your to-do list so you can have financial security in retirement. Here are four things to do when you retire to make your transition to a post-work life as smooth as possible.
4 Key Habits for a Secure Retirement
You can start building a secure retirement by adopting some simple behaviors that will go a long way toward achieving your financial goals.
1. Reduce Expenses
One of the first things to do when you retire is looking for opportunities to cut expenses. This might include downsizing to a smaller home or moving to an area with a lower cost of living. Paying off debt is crucial — if you have a car loan or high-interest credit card debt, focus on paying it off as you near or enter retirement so you don't have to worry about those monthly expenses.
Your savings may have to last 20 to 30 years, so cutting expenses is one way to increase the odds that you'll have enough money to sustain your retirement lifestyle.
2. Create a Retirement Budget
You should also focus on creating a retirement budget. Think about some of your retirement goals, such as traveling every few months, living abroad or living in a city where you could walk everywhere and wouldn't need a car. In addition, look at your fixed monthly expenses, periodic expenses and discretionary spending.
Once you begin retirement, regularly check to see whether your actual spending is in line with your budget. If it isn't, you may have to further reduce expenses or set a more realistic budget that is financially sustainable, but also allows you to enjoy retirement.
3. Revisit Your Investment Strategy
Generally, as you get closer to retirement, your investment mix will likely get more conservative. Take a look at what percentage of your retirement portfolio is invested in stocks versus bonds and see if it aligns with your risk tolerance. Also examine whether you need to diversify your investments to spread out your risk. It may be best to talk to a financial advisor to get advice about how to rebalance your portfolio so you'll have more protection against the ups and downs of the stock market.
4. Assess Your Insurance Options
You may or may not need life insurance depending on your retirement savings and other assets. Life insurance can provide a death benefit for your loved ones after you're gone, but if you already have enough assets to pass on to your children or grandchildren, you might decide to forgo life insurance or get a policy with a smaller benefit.
Only 32% of baby boomers have a plan for how they'll receive care in retirement, according to the Center for a Secure Retirement (CSR). Long-term care insurance can help offset the cost of care in a nursing home or assisted living facility if you end up needing it. If you don't have enough retirement savings to cover this potential cost, you might find it helpful to get this additional insurance protection.
Improve Your Financial Security in Retirement
It's important to realize that retirement planning doesn't end when you finally reach retirement. By taking a few crucial steps — and tailoring your financial plan to your unique needs and goals — you can ensure you have the resources available to enjoy the type of retirement you've always dreamed of.