20-Point Checklist for a Secure Retirement

By Lee Bellinger / January 3, 2014

A secure retirement can be yours if you plan for it now. The following 20-point checklist summarizes the things you can do now in order to enjoy the good life throughout your golden years.

  • Set a retirement date as a goal, even if tentative.
  • Develop a plan for an active and challenging but less demanding productive life during retirement (part-time job, home-based business, volunteer work, etc.).
  • Estimate your monthly living expenses now and, as best you can, in the future to determine what your income needs will be.
  • Contribute fully to IRAs, 401(k)s, and other tax-advantaged retirement savings plans, while you are still able.
  • Make sure the beneficiaries listed on your IRA and other accounts are up to date.
  • Look for ways to save additional money for retirement in regular bank and investment accounts.
  • Thoroughly review all of your investment accounts at least twice a year; rebalance as necessary to maintain asset allocation targets.
  • Determine the value of your home; even if you plan to live in it for the rest of your life, it is a retirement asset you can tap through home equity lines of credit or a reverse mortgage (available to those age 62 or over).
  • Review your Social Security statement to learn your expected monthly Social Security income (if you haven’t received such a statement, contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 and ask for one).
  • Contact Medicare (1-800-MEDICARE) and ask for the publication “Medicare & You” or obtain it online (www.medicare.gov).
  • Check the safety rating of your bank with an independent ratings agency.
  • Check the safety rating of your insurance company with an independent ratings agency.
  • Make sure your life insurance coverage is adequate for your family’s needs.
  • Assess your long-term care insurance needs.
  • Set up a will and living trust. If you already have a will, give it a good review to make sure it still reflects your wishes and circumstances.
  • Develop an estate plan with an estate-planning attorney to help reduce or avoid estate taxes.
  • Visit a certified financial planner for a complete financial check-up.
  • Join a senior citizens’ group to keep abreast of issues affecting retirees and receive benefits. Consider alternatives to the politically leftleaning AARP. Right-leaning seniors groups include the 60 Plus Association (703-807-2070; http://60plus.org) and American Seniors (800-951-0017; www.americanseniors.org).
  • As you age, your body requires more maintenance, so visit your physician at least once per year for a checkup and recommended screenings.
  • Exercise, eat well, spend quality time with your family, and have fun – because while finances are important, holding onto the
  • things that make life truly worth living are the most essential ingredients for a secure and happy retirement.