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Top 10 Things to Do Before You Retire

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According to the U.S. Department of Labor, while the average American spends 20 years in retirement, fewer than half have calculated how much they need to save for the golden years.

Retirement is expensive. Experts estimate that you will need at least 70 percent of your pre-retirement income (for lower earners, it could be up to 90 percent) to maintain your standard of living when you stop working.

The key to a secure retirement is to plan ahead. Here’s some tips to help you prepare.

  1. Prepare a balance sheet of assets and liabilities: Assets include personal possessions of value, such as cash, real estate and investments. Liabilities are your debts and legal obligations. This will give you a good view of where you stand.
  2. Get rid of debt: In a perfect world, you’ll head into retirement with zero debt, which provides some financial peace of mind. To begin, consider going after the debts with the highest interest rates first, and then finish off with your mortgage, since it probably has the lowest interest rate.
  3. Assess life insurance needs: A life insurance policy states that you will pay premiums to an insurance company over time. In exchange, the company will pay a lump sum amount to a beneficiary when you pass away. It can help your survivors pay bills and cover ongoing living expenses. There are different types of policies — a universal plan is considered permanent, while a term plan pays a benefit for a certain amount of time. Investigate both types and take into account if you’d like to leave an inheritance or if you have dependents who will need financial help.
  4. Look into long-term care insurance: It’s impossible to predict what kind of medical care you might need in the future. According to America’s Health Insurance Plans, a non-profit insurance trade organization, long-term care insurance helps people who may need assistance beyond medical and nursing care, for a chronic illness or disability. Typically, Medicare and standard health insurance policies do not cover long-term care.
  5. Review your estate plan: Everyone needs an updated will, power of attorney and an advanced medical directive. Having these documents in place and up-to-date ensures that the proper people are your beneficiaries on insurance or retirement plans, and that your final wishes are followed.
  6. Prepare a financial plan: At what age do you plan to retire? Will your spouse or partner retire the same time as you? Where do you want to live? Do you want to continue working on a part-time basis or do volunteer work? Do you want to travel or take up a new hobby? Take time to think about how you want to spend your retirement, and sit down with a financial professional to map out your retirement goals that can financially meet your anticipated plans.
  7. Prepare a budget: For six months before your retirement, monitor your monthly expenses. Some costs, such as workday meals, professional clothing, and transportation expenses may go down. However, many underestimate the expenses of travel during retirement, as well as increasing costs of medical coverage.
  8. Decide how you are going to spend your time: What are you planning to do the first year of retirement? What about your plans for the rest of your retired life? Without a planned schedule in place, many retirees become bored. It’s perfectly OK (and even exciting) to go back to school or the workplace! Consider becoming a mentor to an up-and-comer in your profession; or take classes at a local community center, community college, or university. Many have discounted rates for retirees or have created special educational programs.
  9. Create a cash reserve: It’s always a great idea for those of any age to have at least six months of living expenses in an emergency fund. Consider opening up a line of credit to boost your cash reserves, providing a financial cushion in case of a crisis.
  10. Evaluate sources of income and revise investment strategy: It may be beneficial to tap your assets in a specific order. Ask your tax advisor what makes sense for you. Also, your portfolio may need to shift to a more conservative, income-producing portfolio. Talk to your financial professional. They can work with you to assess your risk tolerance and recommend investment products that will help you meet your income needs in retirement.

Our knowledgeable financial representatives, available through CUSO Financial Services, L.P., (CFS)**, are committed to helping you meet your unique retirement goals. Call us at 505-872-5420 (800-347-2838 outside the Albuquerque area) to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our CFS Financial Representatives.

* "Top 10 Ways to Prepare for Retirement." U.S. Department of Labor. Accessed June 1, 2017.

** Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA / SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: Are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. Nusenda Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members.