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  • Writer's pictureSteve Coker, CFP

Want to retire in 5 years? – Here are 5 things to do now!

If you are planning to retire within the next 5 years or less, then it is time to get serious about getting ready. Retirement can be a stressful event, but if you plan well it can be exciting, rejuvenating, liberating and yes, maybe even downright fun. Here are 5 key steps that you can take right now to make sure that you are on track to retire well:

1. Dream big!

Retirement is about more than walking away from the job.It is about starting something new – so dream big!Those who retire well are pulled into retirement by a passion, whether it is spending time with the grandkids, golf, serving at a homeless shelter, travel, or something entirely new and different.Start thinking and planning what retirement will look like for you!It will help you get excited about what the future holds.

2. Sharpen the pencil

Knowing where your money is going is always a good idea, but it is especially important when you are considering retirement.Yes, it is time to get organized.If you have several old 401K’s from old employers it is time to consolidate and organize those accounts so you know what you have.If you have made it a habit of running up the credit cards and then paying them down by working more overtime, then it may be time to get a handle on spending.You don’t want to walk away from the paycheck only to discover that you spend more than you thought.

3. Take care of your health

Many retirees struggle with health care costs during retirement, so understand your health coverage and take advantage of your health coverage during your working years.If you have been putting off surgeries or health care check-ups because you have been working too much, then it is time to make health a priority.Being healthy in retirement makes all the difference in what your life will be like.

4. Answer the big question

The big question of course is, “Will I have enough saved for retirement”. With less than 5 years to go you can’t make up for 20 years of not saving, but you can make adjustments, so start running the numbers to see if you are on track. Are you short on savings? Consider ramping up your retirement contributions. Are you considering living on less in retirement? Start living off that new lower budget now to see what it will feel like. If you aren’t able to do the things you want, you may need to work a little longer.

5. Get advice Ok. I admit I am in the advice business, but retirement is a big deal, and I do believe it pays to consult with an expert. Retirement not only involves shifting your life savings around, it impacts several decades of your life, so it is worth doing well. If you are within 5 years of retirement and you don’t have a financial expert that you can trust, then it may be time to start developing a relationship. Don’t be the retiree who says “I’m retiring next week and I need to find someone to help me”. It is better to start a relationship up front so that when the time comes you already have someone you can trust.

Retirement is one of those events that can be exciting and scary at the same time. By planning ahead you can make retirement far more exciting and far less scary. Take some time to get started today.

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