If you don’t already have a 10-year financial plan in place as you look toward retirement, then it’s time to start planning. Here are seven tips for getting your 10-year plan in order.
The idea of taking your financial planning out 10 years may seem, at best, overwhelming, but this type of projection is important if you’re entering the later stages of your career. It’s important because the decisions you make now will have a big impact on how and when you retire.
Why Are These 10 Years So Crucial?
For one, if you’re like most veterinarians, the 10 years before retirement are likely to be among the 10 highest-earning years you have. That fact, coupled with increased maximum savings amounts allowed as you approach retirement, means a greater possibility for building that savings account.
Here’s a quick checklist you can use as your 10-year planning guide.
#1. Save as much as you can.
Now is the time to max out on your individual retirement accounts and consider supplemental accounts such as Roth IRAs. Although the 2017 limits for individual retirement accounts will not increase from 2016 levels, if you’re over the age of 50 you can put an additional $6000 away. (See this page for full contribution limits for 2017.)
#2. Keep updated on the state of Social Security.
Your children are unlikely to be so lucky, but if you’re planning to retire within the next 10 years, chances are very good that Social Security will still be an important contributor to your retirement income. The key when considering Social Security benefits, however, is to make sure you’re not relying on it as the sole—or even primary—provider of retirement income. Those days are long in the past.
#3. Consider the big picture of your personal assets.
While unlikely, you may have a pension that will still be around. Has your home, which you once considered a primary source of income, appreciated or depreciated in value? Has that inheritance you were counting on evaporated? Have your health care costs suddenly begun to take a bigger-than-expected bite out of your savings? Work with your advisor to consider the bigger picture.
#4. Identify key dates and times.
There are certain government requirements you need to be aware of as you near retirement. What is the age at which you will be eligible to receive full Social Security benefits? What are the required minimum distributions? Those key dates should be part of your larger plan.
Also, if you work for a large employer, consider whether your company might offer incentives for early retirement. This could change your plan and make you decide to retire sooner than expected, but this can only be done if you start thinking and planning ahead.
#5. Visualize your ideal retirement.
Have the necessary conversations with your partner or family about what your ideal retirement may look like. It is the perfect time to think through what you expect from your retirement and how much income you’ll likely need to make that image a reality. If you don’t have enough saved to be able to do everything you’ve always wanted to do, you’ll have to consider which activities you’ll be willing to forego or whether you’d be willing to work longer than originally expected to make those dreams a reality.
#6. Have a plan B.
Even the best-laid plans sometimes go awry. As meticulous as your planning may be, someone could always throw a wrench in that plan. Have some idea of what action you’d take if something unexpected bit you.
#7. Consider non-pecuniary factors.
Income in retirement is essential, but it isn’t everything. Make sure you’ve fully thought through issues such as staying active, establishing a new community of friends, where you’ll live and why, and how you’ll adjust to not caring for clients on a regular basis. Because honestly, it’s going to be hard not seeing so many furry faces each day. Sometimes the most difficult adjustments to retirement aren’t financial in nature at all.
Not every item on this checklist needs to be fully solved prior to entering the final stages of your retirement planning, but you’ll want to at least consider them. Try to do this while you’re still working so can more easily make adjustments to the plan.