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Retirement Planning Has You Overwhelmed? Here’s a Starting Point

MP900442259At times it may seem like planning for college was easier than planning for retirement. But you can keep things simple with these four key elements of retirement planning.

Investments, health insurance, Social Security, aging in place, taxes: there’s so much to think about when it comes to retirement planning. But according to this recently published article appearing on Vanguard’s website, “4 things to put on your to-do list for retirement prep,” starting with these four steps will keep you focused.

Determine what you need to save. Figure out some rough estimates for expenses you're likely to have, regardless of your plans, like housing, food, utility, and health care costs. You want to get a general idea of how much you'll need to meet those expenditures with income from Social Security, a pension or annuity and retirement or investment accounts.

Invest with a strong asset mix. Put your savings to work for your future through investing in the right mix of stocks, bonds and short-term cash reserves (asset allocation) based on your goals, the length of time before you'll need to use your savings and your comfort level for risk. Review and modify your investment portfolio regularly. Rebalancing should be designed to minimize risk as you get closer to your retirement date, not maximize returns.

If you fail to rebalance, your portfolio could become overweighted with one type of investment. This happens frequently with stock holdings when equity markets are strong. When stocks appreciate quickly and shift a portfolio's balance, it's more vulnerable to market corrections and that puts it at risk of greater potential losses when compared with the original asset allocation.

Consider taxes. The type of account where you have your assets can make a substantial difference in your tax liability. Investments that generate capital gains distributions or taxable income should be held in tax-advantaged accounts. Tax-efficient investments also make more sense if they are held in taxable accounts.

Don’t Go It Alone. These are all complex matters, and putting together a great team will be very helpful and alleviate some of the worry. That team includes a skilled estate planning attorney, a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) and a CPA.

Once you have a better handle on these four steps, you’ll be more at ease and better prepared when retirement finally does arrive.

Reference: Vanguard (May 15, 2017) “4 things to put on your to-do list for retirement prep”