6 Keys to Creating Your Game Plan for Retirement

retirement game plan

The story of retirement is changing. The rules are vastly different from the days of our parents and grandparents. For many, the normal path to retirement then included a steady pension from an employer, a stable Social Security check and maybe a little bit of savings.

For most people, those days are over, and building a plan for retirement looks very different.Here are six keys to creating a retirement game plan in today’s changing world:

1. Stay out of debt.

If you’re nearing retirement, chances are that your parents went through the Great Depression. They learned thriftiness and appreciated the things they could call their own. They saved their pennies; dollars had a big significance. Baby boomers aren’t as good at saving as their folks were. If you do like to spend money, then focus on paying cash! If you don’t have the money today, learn to save for purchases. Two, three or four months later, you’ll have the cash. Five to 10 years from retirement is not the time to be taking on new debt.

2. If you’re 15 years from retirement – or less – focus on paying down any mortgages you hold.

Your mortgage can be one of the largest liabilities you hold in retirement. When the paychecks stop, the entire dynamic changes. We don’t know which direction the economy could turn and not having a mortgage payment can help you sleep peacefully at night.

3. Save enough for retirement.

Many people don’t know how much to save for retirement—or even where to begin. In building your plan for retirement, here’s a handy guideline for milestones to shoot for:

  • At age 35, have one year’s worth of your current salary saved.
  • At age 45, have three years’ salary saved.
  • At age 55, have five years’ salary saved.
  • At age 67 (at retirement), have eight to 11 times your current annual salary saved.

4. Stick to a rigorous budget.

Now let’s talk about a revolutionary concept that many in their highest-earning years are unfamiliar with: the budget. Nail down where you are spending money as early as possible. Next, make sure your pre-and post-retirement budget includes not just your mortgage and utilities, but also food, fun, travel, taxes, insurance, etc. Unless your retirement objective is to eat ramen and watch Three’s Company reruns, the sooner you can come to reality with what you will and won’t need, the less painful this transition into 30 years of unemployment (retirement) will be.

5. Check your plan for risk tolerance.

Whether you need $250,000 or $2.5 million to retire, it is important to understand your risk tolerance and allocate your portfolio accordingly. Over time, your tolerance for risk may change as when you approach retirement because you have less time to recover from market losses.

6. Maintain a diversified portfolio.

Remember three important words in retirement: income, income, income. Gone are the days of retiring with a pension. Most retirees will face an income shortfall at some point during retirement. You don’t want to find yourself in a position where your monthly income is tied to sleeping bank rates or the stock market’s volatility. Do your due diligence when walking into the world of purchasing income. Be sure to set your expectations on your objective.

One retirement vehicle that may help you diversify your portfolio is an annuity. Annuities are insurance contracts that essentially transfer the risk of longevity from the individual to an insurance company. Annuities are insurance products designed for retirement and are subject to restrictions, surrender charges, holding periods or early withdrawal fees, which vary by carrier. Riders may include surrender charges, longer surrender periods, lower caps or other restrictions. Annuities are not bank or FDIC insured. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuer. When considering true diversification, an annuity should act only as a piece of your retirement puzzle.

The tools needed for accumulating retirement income have definitely changed from our grandparents’ era. However, the definition of retiring will remain the same for generations to come: Retirement should be waking up in the morning without money concerns. You’ve worked hard your whole life. Your retirement should be about focusing on your family, friends, and hobbies. The ultimate goal is to achieve financial independence, so you can spend your money with confidence and be thankful for the things you have.

Ready to work on your plan for retirement? Find out if you are on track with this retirement savings calculator.

By Chris Heerlein – Copyright 2016 Kiplinger Washington Editors

Steve Post contributed to this article.

This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing expert, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. Mutual of Omaha Investor Services, Inc., Chris Heerleing, Steve Post and Kiplinger Washington Editors are not affiliated.

Life insurance and annuities are underwritten by United of Omaha Life Insurance Company, 3300 Mutual of Omaha Plaza, Omaha, NE 68175. United of Omaha Life Insurance Company is licensed nationwide except in New York and does not solicit business in New York. In New York, Companion Life Insurance Company, Hauppauge, NY 11788-2934 underwrites life insurance and annuities. Coverage may not be available in all states and may vary by state. Each company is responsible for its own financial and contractual obligations.

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