Retirement on the near horizon tends to set off alarm bells for even the most financially secure of us. Going from a steady income and savings mode to a spend-only phase of life can be an uncomfortable transition. Before retirement hits, it pays to brush up on what you think you already know when it comes to financial literacy and to become knowledgeable on issues that are unique to being a retiree. Set yourself up for success with these tips:
1. Rethink your spending priorities.Without a steady stream of income, your financial resources become much more finite — money isn’t going to keep flowing into the bucket. Consider which spending items you can cut back on or eliminate in retirement. Ask yourself questions like: Do I still need several business publication subscriptions or can I scale it down to just one favorite? Can I cut back on my dry cleaning? Is it time to find a less expensive hair salon? Can my grown kids travel to see me a few times a year instead of making several trips to see them each year? Determine a budget that’s in line with making your retirement savings last and find a budget app or tool that works for your individual needs — then use it.
2. Look at debt in a new light.When it comes to not paying outright for purchases, be cautious. If you choose to finance something on a credit card or by some other means, be sure that you are able to make payments comfortably within your established budget (remember our first tip?). And, make payments that are sizable enough so the debt doesn’t linger any longer than absolutely necessary. At this stage of the game, the last thing you want it is to pay a lot of interest.
3. Become a student of retirement financial literacy.Read, research, and read some more. No matter how financially savvy you think you are, it pays to educate yourself on the many money-related issues that are specific to retirees. Become informed on important topics like taxes, insurance, Social Security, Medicare and estate planning. Whether you prefer reading a book, listening to a podcast, watching a video online or speaking with an advisor in person, there are plenty of resources. No excuses.
Remember, you work a lot of years to get yourself to retirement. It’s not a sprint, it’s a slow and steady foot race. Don’t shortchange yourself — allow plenty of time to learn what you need to know about managing your finances in retirement before you actually throw away the alarm clock and say goodbye to the daily work grind. You’ll be glad you did.
For more on money matters for retirees, read The Street’s Then, check out personal finance expert Jane Bryant Quinn’s book, published this year — We love that she not only addresses "rightsizing" your life, but also how to get the most out of the retirement resources you already have.