Retirement might be a far-off idea for some workers, but you also may be surprised about how ready you are for retirement. You may not realize just how much money you’ve already saved or what other options you may have to fund your retirement.
So, before you lament never being able to retire, here are some things to consider that may shine a more positive light on your retirement prospects.
Your retirement portfolio is in good shape
Sit down and make a list of all your retirement investments. You may be surprised to find that you’re doing pretty well when it comes to saving for retirement.
Remember that your retirement portfolio isn’t just money you’ve invested in a 401(k). You also may want to consider other stock holdings, savings, investments, and even your home. All assets that can be converted to cash could help you.
You’ve achieved your career ambitions
Perhaps you’ve reached the peak of what you’ve wanted to accomplish professionally. Or maybe you don’t have anything motivating you to continue on your current path.
These points in your career could be signs that it’s time for you to step back and retire rather than push forward with a career from which you've gained so much already.
You're debt free
An important goal before you retire is to try to be debt free. You probably don’t want to have debt still hanging over you if you’re living on a fixed income.
Consider prioritizing paying off debt now if you still have some on your balance sheet. Think about paying off your mortgage and getting rid of any leftover student debt.
And remember that credit card debt is most likely the highest-interest debt you have. Pay off any cards and make a plan to purchase only what you can pay off each month going forward.
You have a retirement plan
Do you already know where you want to live or what you want to do when you’re retired? Having goals before you retire can help you put a plan in place now so you know when you’re ready to retire.
Consider issues like the cost of living for where you want to settle down as well as daily expenses and one-time events like traveling.
You have a retirement budget
It’s a good idea to come up with a budget as part of your countdown to retirement. Remember to factor in things like the costs of utilities, groceries, and car payments. You'll also want to factor in one-time costs for vacations or to pursue a hobby when you’re retired.
A good retirement budget can help you get comfortable with how much money you’ll need in retirement. And you might be surprised to find that you’re in good shape to retire now.
You have other ways to make money
You may have a side hustle that has been making you some extra cash while you’ve been working at your full-time job. Or perhaps you think you’ll want to work a part-time job to stay busy when you’re retired.
It’s a good idea to consider ways to supplement your Social Security income now so you have a bit of a cushion if you need it later.
You’re emergency account is fully funded
An emergency account should have enough money to cover one-time surprise expenses like a major car repair or unexpected medical bills. This account should be separate from your regular checking account, which you use to pay regular expenses.
If you find that your emergency account is fully funded, it may be a good sign that you can survive a surprise expense on a fixed income.
Pro tip: It may be a good idea to revisit your current budget and look for small ways to avoid throwing money away to give yourself some extra cash for your emergency fund.
You qualify for benefits
You’ve had taxes taken out of your paycheck for things like Social Security and Medicare throughout your working life. But do you know if you’re old enough to qualify for those benefits, or how much those benefits could cover you now?
If you haven’t done so by age 60, create an account on the Social Security Administration’s website. You can see your earnings history, calculate how much you can collect each month, and how much you’ve contributed during your years of work.
If you can afford to hold off claiming Social Security, you may be able to receive a bigger check.
Your home is paid off
One of the biggest expenses you may have to pay each month is a mortgage payment. Paying off your mortgage means you don’t have to worry about that expense depleting your retirement account each month.
However, if your mortgage has a low interest rate and you can earn a higher return on your investments, you should consider hanging on to your mortgage.
And don’t forget to calculate the mortgage interest deduction on your taxes. A financial adviser may help you make this decision.
Pro tip: If your mortgage payments include escrow funds to cover home insurance and property taxes, remember that those costs don’t go away when you pay off your house. You’ll want to include insurance and taxes on your estimated retirement budget.
You aren’t supporting anyone
You may not be able to retire just yet if you’re still paying for your kids to go to college or have an aging parent with expenses that you cover.
When you look at your proposed retirement budget, remember that it should be able to cover the expenses of you and your spouse or significant other. Any additional people you’re paying for on a fixed income could cause you financial problems later on.
So, can you retire early? Maybe. Check your portfolio to see how much you’ve saved overall, and remember to factor in any monthly costs that will have to be covered when you’re on a fixed income.
Meeting with a financial adviser might help you make some decisions about your retirement and provide the peace of mind to retire now.
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