If you’re the type to plan, you probably created retirement and financial goals towards the end of last year. But perhaps you didn’t, or maybe you’re just beginning to start saving for retirement. Either way, this article provides a retirement planning checklist for 2022 that can get you on track and help you stay focused. Because even if you’ve got an established IRA or 401(k), you should review its performance periodically. Doing so enables you to make sometimes critical adjustments that impact not just your retirement planning, but your overall financial planning, too. In fact, you should create (and review) your yearly financial goals with retirement planning in mind.
We love checklists and have written quite a few lately that we’ll link to in this article. Our goal is to arm you with the important information you need to create the retirement income you desire to support you in your golden years.
Retirement Planning Checklist
1. Determine exactly how much money you need in retirement.
We wrote an article recently (basically another checklist!) that includes a section on how to find your magic number—the amount of money you’ll need in retirement. Check that out for help determining your magic number to live the retirement life you desire. Your magic number should always be at the top of your retirement planning checklist
If you don’t know your magic number, you might find yourself woefully unprepared financially when it’s time to retire. Your magic number is the goal you should strive to achieve and should always be the top focus of your own retirement planning checklist. Once you calculate that number, ask yourself the questions below and implement what you deem appropriate.
2. Have you had recent changes in income?
Depending on your situation, your income may have risen last year—or maybe it decreased. Either way, any change in income calls for realigning your budget.
If your income rose, carve out as much of those extra funds as you can to contribute to your retirement account.
If your pay decreased, adjust accordingly. We realize the cost of living these days is challenging enough, and sometimes it’s hard to save as much as you want. But the fact is, any amount you can save on a regular basis will increase the bottom line of your retirement income.
3. How has inflation impacted your finances?
Quite frankly, you cannot control inflation. When it’s on the rise, inflation impacts everyone regardless of income.
If your income decreased, you’ll have to adjust anyway, and unfortunately, inflation is your double-whammy.
However, even if your salary increased, expect inflation to take a bite out of that extra income.
This is where periodic financial checks are crucial. Quarterly reviews help you identify practical (and impractical) spending habits and define where you can find extra savings to support your daily life and save for retirement.
4. How well did your investments perform last year?
Investment goals are key—and so is their performance. So, if you haven’t done so yet, it’s time to evaluate last year’s investments and adjust your sails where necessary.
What worked, what didn’t, and what’s new on the horizon?
If the stock market’s ups and downs didn’t serve you well, consider adding alternative investments to your portfolio.
There are too many to list in this article, but with a little investigation, you’ll learn that there are many alternatives to the stock market that can help increase the ROI in your retirement portfolio.
5. Plan on maxing out your retirement plan contributions.
We cannot emphasize this enough. In fact, we mention this in every retirement planning checklist we’ve ever written. Besides the obvious—that the more you save, the more you have to invest—there is the fact that compound interest earned in savings accounts over time is significant. It’s the reason you should start saving and investing as early in life as you can. And, circling back around to why you should contribute as much annually as your plan allows, doing so gives you more investing power as well as more interest-earning potential.
6. Open an HSA to sock more money away.
This is another golden nugget that can help you supplement your income in retirement. Whether your HSA is through your employer or if you self-direct an HSA, funds in the account help you in more ways than one. Tax-sheltered HSA funds help you pay for qualified medical expenses, today and in retirement. But, once you reach the age of 65, you can take penalty-free withdrawals and use funds in the account for anything, not just medical costs. Now, you will pay tax on withdrawals not used for qualified medical expenses—but avoiding that penalty is huge. And, even if you pay taxes on withdrawals, HSA funds used for other expenses is a big help when you’re living on a fixed income.
Time to Create Your Own Checklist
We hope this retirement planning checklist, as well as the supplemental articles listed below, help you get started or continue on the right path to achieve financial security when you retire. It takes planning, commitment, and a firm resolve to implement the right strategy for you depending on your unique situation.
If Advanta IRA can be of assistance, please contact us today. We are happy to explain how self-directed retirement and other savings plans can help you reach your financial and retirement planning goals.