Almost everyone dreams of retirement. Unfortunately, many discover too late that they haven't planned well enough to retire when they want to but you can plan for retirement so that you can leave the work force on your terms and on your timeframe.
Make Sure Your Credit Is In Order
Check your credit history regularly, even when retirement seems far in the future. You can get a free copy once every 12 months at www.annualcreditreport.com. Ensuring your credit report is complete and accurate is an essential part of managing your finances throughout your life, and can be especially important as you prepare for retirement.
Your goal as you near retirement should be to minimize or eliminate your debt by paying off your mortgage and car loans and not carrying any balances on your credit cards. Continue to use credit cards for routine expenses and pay the balances in full each month. Doing so will help you maintain healthy credit scores in case you have an unexpected need for a loan. If you stop using credit altogether, you will no longer have a credit history available to score.
Monitor Your Social Security Statement
Your Social Security statement provides an estimate of the amount of Social Security benefits you could receive upon retiring, so it is a valuable tool for helping you with retirement savings strategies. You can access your statement online at www.socialsecurity.gov.
Knowing how much your Social Security payments will be can help you better understand how much you'll need to save in other vehicles to fund your lifestyle during retirement. After reviewing your statement online, you may decide to adjust your 401(k) contributions, open an IRA or seek other avenues for funding your retirement.
The statement can also help you work with your current employer to ensure they're withholding the appropriate amounts.
Start Saving Immediately
It's never too soon to start investing in your retirement. Contact your human resources department about options for payroll deductions for a 401K plan or similar investment program, stock purchase plan or other retirement investment programs. Often a company will match a percentage of your contributions, helping grow your retirement savings more quickly.
Consider meeting with an investment advisor about how much we will need to save to maintain the lifestyle you want after leaving the workforce. A financial advisor can help you with investment and savings options for your income level and length of time you have to invest so that you can reach your retirement goals. The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) is a good place start looking for a qualified advisor.