What will you do the first day that you retire? What about five years into retirement? If you don’t have a clear answer, you’re not alone. Most people look forward to retirement but don’t have a plan for what they’ll do once they get there. This is a common issue which has implications with financial planning.
Most don’t have a vision to determine how much money they’ll actually need. It’s not enough to know that you want to retire; you need to know what you’ll do once you get there to ensure that you’re saving enough.
Athletes have long understood the importance of envisioning. Runners who imagine finishing a race in a specific amount of time are more likely to accomplish that goal. Athletes don’t just think, “I want to win this race,” they think through every aspect. You need to do the same thing for your financial goals.
To identify your retirement vision, imagine both day-to-day activities and bucket list items that you have always wanted to accomplish. Do you dream of sipping a cup of coffee while watching the sunrise over Napa Valley from your new kitchen window? Maybe you dread cold winters in Baltimore and want to travel more, or you’re planning to spend as much time as possible with a grandchild in the area.
When envisioning, be as specific as possible. Consider the time you want to spend volunteering, learning, working, traveling and relaxing. If you want to travel more, what does that mean to you? Will you take weeklong vacations or spend half the year somewhere south? Who will you travel with and what will you do together?
Once you have an idea of your vision, you will need to determine what those plans will cost. This will help you build your financial plan and how you should invest for retirement. If you find that you have a gap in savings, here are four ways to get on track.
1. Contribute the maximum amount to your retirement plan. The maximum contribution limit for qualified retirement plans in 2020 is $19,500 and for anyone over 50 there is an additional catch-up contribution of $6,500 allowed. That is a lot of money to set aside each year. But if you’re in a higher income bracket or you’ve discovered a large gap in savings, make the most of the opportunity to save on a tax-deferred basis.
2. Diversify your portfolio. Asset allocation is the single most important factor in achieving a successful portfolio. Whatever comprises your portfolio, three factors should drive your allocation: how soon you’ll need to use the money, your tolerance for risk, and your financial objectives. Typically as you get closer to retirement your portfolio should become more conservative.
3. Review your debt. Think about the type of debt you have. If you still have credit card debt, pay it off while you’re working. This type of debt is the last thing that you want to bring into retirement. Then think about your mortgage and your car. Can you pay off those balances now too?
4. Push back your retirement date. Another step you can take to maximize savings is to adjust your target retirement date. Your employer may allow you to work part-time for a few years, which gives you the opportunity to contribute to the retirement plan longer.
The clearer your vision is now, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to plan ahead and enjoy retirement as some of the best years of your life.
An asset allocation strategy and diversification may help reduce, but cannot eliminate risk of investment losses. There is no guarantee that by assuming more risk, you will achieve higher returns.
Elizabeth Paal Goss is a Registered Representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors. Securities and investment advisory services offered through Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a broker/dealer (Member SIPC) and registered investment advisor. Insurance offered through Lincoln affiliates and other fine companies. 307 International Circle, Suite 390, Hunt Valley, MD 21030.Heritage Financial Consultants, LLC is not an affiliate of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. CRN-3098153-052220