Preparing for Retirement

Between longer life expectancies and fewer employers offering traditional pension plans, it’s a good idea to take an active role in planning for retirement. You can talk with your local credit union about retirement savings vehicles, including IRAs and Roth IRAs. Here are some other things to consider.

Planning Ahead – 10 to 15 Years Before Retirement

It’s time to figure out how much money you will need to retire – and where you will find this money to support yourself. It’s good to consider the kind of lifestyle you will want to support, such as budgeting for travel or new pastimes.

  • Visit the U.S. Department of Labor to help with planning your retirement savings.
  • Take advantage of the time value of money. Put your money to work for you while you are still working by investing in a retirement account.
  • Make sure you diversify your investments with a mix of stable “fixed” investments, such as a bond, and potentially higher-yielding, but riskier investment, such as a stock mutual fund.
  • Look into “catch up” retirement contributions, which allow people age 50 and older to contribute more to their 401(k) and other retirement accounts each year.

Upon Your Retirement

There are a number of important milestones around this time, as you move from accruing income to tapping into your savings to support yourself over the years to come.

  • At age 65, you are eligible for Medicare. Remember to enroll or you may be limited on when you can enroll later and may pay more in premiums.
  • At age 66, you are eligible for full Social Security benefits, if you were born between 1943 and 1954.
  • At age 70½, you should start taking minimum withdrawals from most retirement accounts to avoid heavy tax penalties in the future.

After Retirement – 30 Years or More

The average 65-year-old American male will live 17 more years and the average 65-year-old American female will live 20 more years, so planning for 30 years of retirement will protect you from exhausting your savings.

  • Plan a withdrawal strategy so you pay less tax on money you take out of your retirement account and continue to grow the money you leave in.
  • Determine whether to take your pension or retirement plan benefit in a lump sum or in an annuity. Read your plan documents to learn about your options.
  • Try to grow your remaining money to at least keep pace with inflation.

For more retirement resources, visit the Social Security Administration’s guide to understanding retirement benefits.