How ready for retirement are you?

Quick Check: How Ready for Retirement are You?

Retirement readiness is not an overnight success story. It is not a simple formula either. It takes dedication, hard work, and good strategies. Why? Because it is simply not just retirement savings. Below is a quick check to assess your readiness for your golden years whether you are 5-10 or even a year away from retirement!

Financial Wellbeing

As the biggest stressor of retirement, financial wellbeing is budgeting, savings, income streams, and planning. Here are some categories to review for your retirement planning

  • Housing, including utilities and maintenance
  • Healthcare costs (covered later)
  • Daily living: food, transportation
  • Entertainment and travel

Having an idea of where you stand now will help determine how much you should have for retirement assets.

Emergency Fund

Planning for the unexpected helps immensely when it comes to retirement readiness. When there is financial uncertainty, the emergency fund is the perfect security blanket. Advised to be kept separate from normal savings, the emergency fund should have roughly 3-6 months of living costs.

Debt Elimination

The less debt you need to pay in retirement, the better off you will be. Retires are often relying on fixed income streams, so beginning a repayment strategy now while you are still working would be ideal. If you can, paying down debts with higher interest rates would save a lot of money for you down the road.

Retirement Needs
As a CPA, knowing what you need and how you want to life your retirement helps set realistic goals and plans. This should include where you want to reside, what age you plan to retire, and even length of retirement. With longevity increasing by the day, it is estimated that retirement will last between 20-40 years for many. While evaluating your needs, this is a great time to also compose a timeline for when certain benefits/income streams begin.

Healthcare & Insurance

Health insurance is a major factor for retirement, and unfortunately will be the biggest expense you will face in retirement. Not including long-term care, a newly retired couple will need a minimum of $300,000 for medical expenses alone. This number is predicted to increase yearly, too. Moreover, should you have a long-term care event, without coverage, you are looking at approximately another $140,000 annually.

Now part of health care costs is insurance. Medicare only covers so much, and that depends on the plans you go with. Other than Part A each Part or supplemental plan has a premium. You may need prescription drug coverage, which is where Part D of Medicare may help. Consider a supplemental plan under Part C. Do further research into what a private health insurance company may offer so you know what options you have and are able to get the best price for what you need. Long-term care insurance is another premium monthly, but it would help a lot should you need it. There are some options where you may add a rider to a life insurance policy to help cover the costs long-term care would entail.

READ MORE

A Retirement Strategy Offering Both Savings and Income

In economic uncertainty, finding answers that provide both savings and an income during retirement becomes challenging. While you try to recover from a downturn, so are companies. And history speaks for itself: employee retirement programs are usually the first cut. This was seen after the Great Recession when corporations across the U.S. reduced and eliminated 401(k) matches. More recently, with the Covid-19 crisis, some companies have begun reducing retirement programs and other employee benefits to aid in recovering from the crisis.

Since retirement is up to the employee, you want something that will withstand the market fluctuations, lower risk, and provide a promised regular income: annuities. As an insurance product, annuities are either done with a single, lump sum payment or recurring premiums that will grow and provide retirement savings and income stream.

Overview of Annuity Types

Variable annuities often yield higher returns because they are directly tied to the consumer’s investment choices. However, they can be decrease in value when the market experiences a downturn. No guarantee is offered with interest or principal protection with these annuities.

Fixed annuities accrue interest off a fixed interest rate set at the beginning of the contract. These are written in stone for a set number of years, meaning they cannot decrease in value for that time. Thus, these annuities offer some protection guarantee, have low yields, and offer low risk.

Fixed indexed annuities are a middle ground of the other two annuities. Based on the performance of a specific index, they provide guaranteed principal protection. Risk is medium with this annuity and has a capped yield that becomes part of the annuity income stream.

Ways Annuities Lower Risk in Retirement

Lifetime income – After accumulation, income payments can be received as either a lump sum, an installment payment for a set number of years, or lifetime payments depending on the rider. This may come with a fee, but some riders have no fee associated.

Tax-deferred – As long as funds remain in the annuity, your savings will remain protected from the yearly taxation on interest. As a chance to earn interest on interest, principal, and on taxes deferred, you get ahead on retirement assets that is not typically available with other retirement accounts.

Principal protection – Protecting your hard-earned money will help reduce retirement risks you will face. With fixed and fixed indexed annuities, your principal investment is protected with the chance to grow and become a stable income stream for retirement.

Growth – Annuities offer a flexibility for growth that may be capped or have a participation rate. These are linked specifically to market indexes. A variable annuity has the potential for a high growth rate, but fixed or fixed indexed annuities allow for participation but less risk.

For more information on how annuities can reduce and eliminate risk in your retirement, please listen to The Retirement Risk Show episode, “The Crossroads of Longevity and Volatility: How Annuities Help.”

READ MORE