Whether your retirement is right around the corner or a few decades down the road, you probably have some questions. That's totally normal.
This list of retirement FAQs should address your most basic questions and may help you start thinking about your long-term financial goals as you approach retirement.
When can I retire?The answer to this question, of course, can vary drastically from person to person. Work with your advisor to consider several factors, including your current retirement savings, health, working situation and debt.
Many people end up retiring earlier than planned. It's critical to take a holistic view of your total financial outlook and plan realistically from there.
You might want to create an annual retirement review checklist that you can start using right now to ensure you are staying on track and make adjustments as needed.
How much should I have saved for retirement?
Here's another big question that also varies from person to person. If you have a higher net worth or lofty plans for expensive trips or purchases, then you'll likely need more savings to cover those expenses.
But the truth is that many people aren't on track for having enough savings for all three phases of their retirement — from the honeymoon stage to end-of-life planning. There are often a lot of unexpected expenses from health care to long-term care in retirement that you'll also need to consider and plan for.
One key is setting realistic financial goals that match your ability to save right now, and can help make those future plans a reality.
Should I save for retirement or pay off debt?
With the rising amount of debt many Americans face, you might be struggling to decide where to best put your focus.
The first thing you need to do is get the full picture when it comes to your debt.
From there, you can work with your advisor to make better decisions on which approach you should take.
Remember, retirement certainly is important, but carrying significant debt can also have a real impact on your potential long-term income.
What costs should I plan for in retirement?
Just because you are heading into retirement doesn't mean your expenses will dramatically drop off — the opposite, in fact, may be true. One way to measure potential expenses is to try this exercise: track your spending over the course of a few months and see where your finances are going.
From there, you will have a more realistic example of the costs and expenses you will likely continue to face in retirement. Then you will can see where you can cut expenses in the future, or if you will need to increase savings to match spending.
When should I take my Social Security?
You might expect that your future Social Security (SS) benefits will cover a good chunk of your retirement income. However, depending on your work history and earnings, that might not actually be the case.
You can create an account at My Social Security which will give you up to date information on your expected benefits. This is valuable information that can help you plan some strategies around the rest of your retirement income.
If you haven't started withdrawals yet, now is the time to work with your advisor to develop the best plan to maximize your SS benefits.
How do I plan for medical costs?
A common misconception that many retirees learn too late is that Medicare will not cover all of your health care costs. In fact, as retirees age, health care costs often become the biggest expenses they face.
It's crucial to understand and account for potential health issues and their associated costs as well as long-term care plans. Ignoring some of these costs could have a dramatic impact on your long-term savings. Consider this, as well as your current health and lifestyle. Transitioning to a healthier lifestyle now can make a difference in the decades to come.
These are some common retirement questions and answers. Use this information as a baseline that can help you set smart and realistic financial goals for your retirement.