It is anticipated that almost four million Americans will retire in the next 15 years, forcing many to face the question, “Am I ready for retirement?” As this growing number of Americans consider the next chapter in their lives, they are discovering a gap in their retirement plan.

Retirement is one of the largest transitions a person will encounter in their lifetime, yet only one-third of Americans feel they are financially prepared. According to Mintel’s April 2017 Consumers and the Economic Outlook report, 11 percent of Americans nearing retirement age are preparing to look for new, higher-paying jobs as a way to improve their financial situation.

By proactively planning and establishing priorities in advance, individuals will be better equipped to have a successful transition into their golden years. Whether retirement is right around the corner or 20 years away, these key considerations can help establish a level-set for retirement preparation.

What’s your number?

First ask yourself “How much money do I need to live?” and “How much money do I have?” These questions can help establish a goal and define areas that should be closely analyzed. If financial gaps exist, assess and determine how to fill them.

It is important to consider the financial implications of several critical areas, including:

  • Average living expenses
  • Healthcare
  • Mortgage or rent
  • Property and other tax obligations
  • Charitable giving
  • Legacy considerations

How much and how long do you want to work?

Over the last 15 years, a shift has been taking place—it no longer has to be “all or nothing” when it comes to employment. More people are retiring in stages, or semi-retiring. Instead of completely stepping away from a career, they might transition out of a role slowly.

Additionally, many Americans are planning to work longer or stay involved in their businesses beyond what is considered traditional retirement. According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 20 percent of Americans 65 and older are now working.

Think about where you would like to be on this spectrum to help determine when, and to what degree, your earning potential will change.

Establish priorities

If the priority is retirement, establish goals and create a plan first and foremost. Perform an in-depth analysis of the entire financial portfolio to assess total assets and decide if retirement goals are achievable. Determine if your portfolio assets can support your desired lifestyle during retirement. If a path to retirement is clear, then begin to think about secondary priorities; these could include leaving a legacy, charitable giving or the opportunity to travel more often. If the path to retirement isn’t clear or if financial assets come up short, consider putting off retirement for a few years, saving more money, adjusting an estimated living plan or reassessing assets.

Create a clear plan

Planning is the most important aspect of a successful transition into retirement. Planning early and reevaluating often is critical. One way to establish a sound financial plan is to work with a financial advisor, who can help you not only establish goals, but work to make them a reality.

Additionally, financial advisors can help counsel families where members may have different goals or considerations that need to be taken into account. They can help communicate each person’s unique goals and assist families in creating a shared plan that meets everyone’s needs.

Finally, they can also track your progress and help identify any changes you may need to make along the way.

For anyone considering retirement, asking the important questions, creating a strategic plan and consistently evaluating progress can help lead to a successful transition. Working with a financial advisor can alleviate questions and ensure that a plan is being considered from all angles, providing valuable support for this life transition.

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