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At some point in life most people will consider retirement. Retirement may mean not ever working again or part-time work. Regardless, if you want to retire you need to plan. If you want to retire the first thing you need to do is make a firm decision. Secondly, you need to determine the time frame you plan to retire. Third, come up with a strategic written plan including a timeline. Lastly, if you are serious about your decision implement the written plan. I've come up with some basic steps needed before you should consider retiring.

Get Debt Free
Eliminate all your debt before you retire. On a fixed income it will be hard to make it financially with a mortgage, car payment, credit card debt, and loans. Therefore, get your financial priorities straight, be honest about your financial situation, and come up with a plan to get rid of all debt.  Sure, you will have your regular household bills, but start off retirement debt free. You may accumulate debt after retirement, but don't start off with debt.

Save Money
You should be saving for retirement in your 20's. Start an IRA, join your company's 401K early, and put a certain amount in savings each month. If you are in your 20's and 30's put away at least 10-15% of your annual salary. In your 40's try to save at least 15-20%, in your 50's and 60's depending on how much you've already saved or not saved, you may need to put aside 15-25% of your income towards retirement. Have a financial advisor determine how much money you need to tap into monthly to sustain your lifestyle.

Pay Off Mortgage
Do not go into retirement with a mortgage payment. Have a zero mortgage balance. You will always have property tax payments that will continue to go up. Check with your local property tax office to see if senior citizens receive additional tax exemptions once they turn 62 or 65 years of age.

Pay Off Car
Like your mortgage, make sure your car is paid off. Your retirement plan should include making all car repairs and not having a balance on your car before retiring. If you need a new car get it before retiring and make sure you have time to pay it off. The less bills at retirement the more freedom, enjoyment, and balance you will have.

Contact Social Security
At least a year before retiring contact your social security office to find out the process to start receiving payments, if you haven't done so. Make sure they have your correct contact and work history information in their records. Also, you should know before retiring how much your monthly payments are estimated to be.  

What is your plan to make sure you can retire?

Sharman Lawson is a financial coach, speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of the book 12 Steps to Eliminate Debt Forever!   Visit her website at sharmanlawson.com.



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