A Simple Retirement Checklist

It doesn’t matter whether you’re wealthy or a successful business owner or someone just getting by. No matter what your situation, planning for retirement can seem overwhelming.

I know people who have failed to thoroughly plan their retirement because it seemed too complicated and time-consuming.  Lots of people feel that way.  People get stuck in the details. Today I’d like to make retirement planning easier for you.
Here’s my solution. Skim this simple retirement checklist.  You don’t even have to read the whole thing. Find one item that interests you and work on it.

retirement checklist

When you’re done with that one item, take a break. Then work on another item. My point is that you should do a little something rather than do nothing. Don’t worry about completing your retirement plan. Just get started on it or do one more thing.


The retirement planning list here is not complete. That might again seem overwhelming and it could discourage you. You’ve just got enough here to get started. Make some retirement planning progress.  You’ll feel better. More importantly, you’ll gain momentum and motivation to keep planning.  We all want a comfortable and enjoyable retirement. Just take a step in that direction today.  Who was it that said, “The longest journey begins with a single step”?


1. Build Your Financial Intelligence
No matter what your age or level of financial knowledge, you can always benefit by knowing more. Keep learning about investing, personal finance, saving, and retirement. Read books, listen to audio courses, attend a financial seminar, and study the investment masters. Learn what works and what doesn’t work with saving and investing.

2. Take Care of Your Spouse
If you’re married you need to plan for two. Many people don’t realize that their spouse might outlive them by 10 years or more. You should plan for this contingency.  You want to be sure you have enough recurring retirement income to cover both your spouse’s and your own lifetime.

3. Determine How Much You Will Spend Regularly
If you don’t determine your retirement expenses, you’ll never know if your retirement savings will be enough. Take the time to think about future expenses so that you will have a clear understanding of whether your assets will adequately provide for your retirement lifestyle. Remember, too, that today retirements can be long—15, 20, 30 years or more.

4. Make Sure You’ll Have Adequate Medical Coverage
Hospital and other medical charges can devastate anyone’s finances. In fact, healthcare is one of the biggest retirement expenses. Be sure you’ll have continuous health insurance coverage immediately after you quit work. Don’t spend a day without being covered. The risk of receiving life-changing bills is simply too great to ever go without health insurance.

5. Understand Social Security
You should definitely have an idea of when you’d like to start drawing Social Security. You’ve got options here—know them and choose what’s best for you and your spouse. Before you sign up, make sure your earnings history has been recorded correctly. An incorrect earnings history could cause you to miss out on some of the money you’re entitled to. Some of my clients have found the customer service at the Social Security Administration to be good. Their number is 1-800-772-1213 (1-800-325-0778 if hearing is hard for you.)

6. Think About Working During Retirement
For some people the whole point of retirement is to not have to work. But other people enjoy finding a new type of work when they retire. Often it’s part-time work that they find fulfilling or always wanted to do. Still other people like to supplement their retirement income with a small paycheck. Staying active by working can also help maintain your health.

7. Consider Long Term Care Insurance
About half of people who live to age 65 will require some form of long-term care for months or years. Care in a nursing home, rehabilitation facility, or a similar facility is expensive. In Connecticut in 2013 an assisted living facility runs an average of $60,000 a year. Planning for these costs can help you avoid burning through your savings or burdening one of your children should you become ill or impaired. Explore whether long term care insurance is for you.

8. Leave a Legacy
Is leaving an inheritance important to you? If so, discuss that goal with a professional retirement planner.

9. Have A Workable Withdrawal Plan
Have a plan for withdrawing from your assets. How will you take money from your investments and turn it into cash so you can pay your bills? You might need to sell investments or use your dividends or bond interest income to pay for living expenses. You also need to remember to take required minimum distributions on your tax-deferred assets and to pay the resulting income tax bill.

10. Talk To The Real Experts — Current Retirees
Retirees will give you ideas about how you can best spend your retirement. They can warn you about potential pitfalls. And, because they’ve gone through it, they have valuable experience you can learn from.


Was this helpful? Can I help you think through any other issues about your retirement? Please feel free to call me, Gene Offredi, CFP, RFC at 203.453.1017 or visit our website at Summit Investor Coach, LLC.