The importance of a plan. The future is yours – get ready for it!
If you had a crystal ball, it would be a lot easier to prepare for the future and your retirement years. You would either know the answer to important questions like how long you will live, will you remain in good health, how the stock market will do—or you would simply know that you have enough money to cover most expenses and retire comfortably.
Planning for the future is important for everyone because it’s never too early or too late to get started. Young people can get ahead by learning about saving and investing options already available to them and the benefits of starting to save early, such as the power of compounding returns and the ability to weather market volatility.
What if you never got around to making a strategy for saving, aging and retirement or got off track after taking a career break? Then get started right now because every step you take—making a budget, getting set up with the right financial accounts and health plans, learning about ways to maximize your savings and future income potential—can still make a difference.
Think about retirement planning in four steps:
- Dream it: Identify your primary goals and needs for the future
Take some time and think about what you need in the future and what you want for your future. These answers will be very different for everyone, but it generally involves thinking about things like: Do you want to retire early and travel or do you need—or want—to keep working? Do you have children, a spouse or others that you need to provide for? Do you already have health issues or are you at high risk to develop particular health problems that you need to factor into your plan? Where will you live as you grow older? Do you have philanthropic goals? A legacy to leave?
- Finance it: Meet your retirement goals financially
Plan how you can meet those future needs and goals financially. This means getting set up with the appropriate savings and investing options—from employer-sponsored 401ks to IRAs to college savings plans. It also means understanding how Social Security works and considering whether other financial commitments, such as home ownership or life insurance, are right for you.
- Protect it: Use estate planning to ensure your wishes
Making sure that you have the right legal structures and protections in place is another key part of planning for the future and there are a number of ways to ensure your wishes for your loved ones, assets and yourself. Estate planning—which can feel like a misnomer, because most of us don’t think of ourselves as having an “estate”—is the term used for thinking about wills, trusts, custody arrangements and other ways of carrying out your wishes. Estate planning becomes more important the more complex your family situation or assets are. But it is equally important for people who are solo agers and do not have a clear next of kin, so that they can specify who should inherit their assets or have the power to make important decisions on their behalf.
- Stay fit for it: Create a plan to maintain health and wellness as you age
As we think about aging, we have to consider the realistic probability that our health issues will increase and may at some point affect our ability to live independently or even make important decisions. A “living will”, which is part of estate planning, can spell out your precise wishes for what kind of care you would like in the event that you are not able to articulate these wishes yourself.
But your health is an important consideration at all stages of life. Maintaining good physical and mental health is critical to being able to work and earn an income. On the flip side, you also need to be able to pay for healthcare expenses, which can be unpredictable and costly. Having a health insurance plan, or being covered by someone else’s, is an excellent first step. Thinking about a strategy to maintain your health and wellness is also important.
If this sounds like a lot to think about, you’re right, it is. And that’s why we help you design your own strategy and figure out the steps to get yourself retirement ready. Come on the journey with us—no crystal ball required.