5 Decisions You Must Make Before You Retire

5 Decisions You Must Make Before You Retire

Feature Staff

Discussions of retirement planning focus mainly on money—whether you’ll have enough and how you’ll spend it. Financial considerations are infused in most retirement choices. Here are five decisions you must make before you retire.

When To Retire

As life expectancy increases, many Americans are working longer, either from necessity or preference. Although you’re allowed to take a distribution from an IRA at age 59 ½, you may wish to wait to allow investments to keep growing with dividends, capital gains distributions, and interest. However, there will come a time when you are required to begin taking distributions. The required minimum distribution (RMD) age for Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) is now 72 unless you reached age 70 ½ before January 1, 2020. Annual RMDs are required for employer-sponsored retirement plans, too. Failure to take the RMD can result in severe penalties of up to half the amount not taken or taken late.

Where You Want To Spend Your Retirement

It's hard to imagine wanting to live anywhere other than Colorado. The state boasts one of the healthiest populations in the country, which is unsurprising given the myriad of available recreational activities that help people stay fit. But choosing where you want to live in retirement involves accepting that the time may come when your present home is too big or too expensive to maintain. Decide well before you retire if you plan to downsize, sell, or rent your current home and where you’ll live instead. Many retirees choose to move closer to family who may be able to help as age affects health or mobility.

When To Start Taking Social Security

The Social Security Administration has changed the dates for full retirement. That age is now 66 for people born between 1943 and 1954, and it increases by a few months for those born after that until it reaches age 67 for those born in 1960. The Social Security Administration provides a chart to help you understand how much you’d be sacrificing by taking social security benefits before your full retirement age.

What Will You Do in Case of Serious Illness

Health care costs will only increase as you age, and Medicare doesn’t pay for all of it. While you are younger and healthy, explore options for long-term care and disability insurance. Both insurance and care itself can be astronomically expensive, so find out about costs now and determine how your finances or living situation will be impacted if you should need extensive care or suffer a serious illness.

How Will You Spend Your Time in Retirement

So many retirement decisions involve money. Your retirement money is supposed to not just help you eke out a subsistence living, but provide you the chance to retire to, rather than just from, something. Plan now if your dream is to travel, move to a new home, take up creative hobbies, or even start a new business.