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Your retirement checklist

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Before you start your next big chapter of retirement, you’ll want to make sure you’re financially on track for the golden years you want. Like many important to do’s, breaking them down into individual items can make the exercise much easier to tackle. Plus, your sense of accomplishment from crossing each task off the list can encourage you to stick to your mission. Here’s a 6‑step checklist to help get the ball rolling on retirement planning and determining what kind of budget you will need in the future.

1. Make a retirement budget

Estimating your retirement costs and gaining a clear understanding of your spending needs can help you be better prepared when your regular paycheck stops. Remember that the budget you create today should be flexible since your needs will likely change throughout retirement. To help you get started, this worksheet can help you take inventory of your income, your savings and the expenses you expect to have after you stop working. 

2. Calculate your Social Security benefit

To look at your earnings and get an estimate of what you'll get from Social Security, you can create a login at If you're not sure when to start taking your benefits, you can also use the Social Security Administration's Quick Calculator to determine how your benefit will change based on your age when you file for benefits. It's an important part of your retirement equation since the dollar amount can drop by up to 30 percent if you take it before you reach full retirement age.

3. Calculate your pension payment

If you have a pension, you can talk to your human resources department or pension benefit manager to get an idea of what your monthly payout will be. If you're married, you can also ask if the pension provides a survivor benefit, and if your regular payment will be cut to provide that benefit.

4. Balance your portfolio

If you're about to retire, you may want to take on a more defensive position with your investments, meaning they carry less risk. That way, you can help protect your savings against any potential market downturns. It can be helpful to meet with a financial professional to make sure your money is allocated in a way that matches your risk tolerance and goals.

5. Reset your insurance 

Before heading into retirement, it can be a good time to review your insurance contracts to make sure you have the right level of coverage. Policies to look over include:

  • Homeowners insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Car insurance 
  • Health insurance

If you need to cut expenses in retirement, you can raise the deductibles on certain policies. Also, if you're too young for Medicare, you have a few options to consider, including:

  • Going on your spouse's policy
  • Buying COBRA from your employer
  • Taking advantage of a pension plan's health benefit
  • Buying individual insurance on your state's exchange or on

6. Determine where you'll live

As you develop your retirement strategy, determining where you’ll live and how much mortgage or rent you’ll pay are important factors. If your dream is to relocate, it can be a good idea to rent a place in the area before fully committing. Your plans should also address where you will live while you age. Questions to ask yourself include:

  • Will you want to age in your current location
  • What costs will be associated with that kind of care? 
  • Will you move to a retirement community
  • Are you open to assisted living if needed? 

These are all factors you’ll want to consider as you calculate your future retirement budget and determine your income needs for the future. 

By taking steps to gain a deeper understanding of your finances, identifying your sources of retirement income and thinking about the life of your future self, you can create a strategy that helps checks all the boxes toward gaining the financial security you seek in retirement.

Want the most from your retirement? Get smarter with Smart Strategies from Athene. Your source for tips, tools and financial solutions that can help you live your best life.