Given recent stock market returns, low interest rates, people living longer, uncertainty about Social Security, and higher medical costs, a successful retirement is a worry for many Americans. Forbes' article, "7 Ways to Have The Most Successful Retirement," provides some points that should be addressed. And the sooner the better.
#1: Set your goals: Write down your goals and objectives. This will make them real, and you'll have a better chance of achieving them. These goals can be short or long term or both; and they can be big or small. But make them important to you. Draft your goals and include a timeframe, costs, and what you intend to pay for them.
#2: Stop procrastinating: When it comes to deciding on your retirement, remember time is money! "Thinking about it" is nice, but it could be a lost opportunity. Talk with an experienced estate planning attorney for accurate and comprehensive information, and so that you understand the circumstances and possible outcomes.
#3: Diversify your nest egg: Don't put all your eggs in one basket! Diversify your investments across asset classes, terms, and risk. Investing only in the stock market can be both lucrative and risky. Putting all your money in a CD or money market is safe, but is not going to give you the financial outcome you require.
#4: Understand good debt and bad debt: Not all debt is bad. Debt that provides you with a tax deduction, such as a mortgage, is a better kind of debt. However, credit card debt is bad debt because the interest isn't tax deductible and those interest rates could be super high.
#5: Understand life's risk: Stuff happens in life, and not all of it is good, like a fire, disability, getting sued or dying. You really have three options: (1) avoid risk, which is sometimes possible; (2) transfer the risk to an insurance company; or (3) accept the risk, and the bad outcomes that may come with it.
#6: Have proper planning documents for you and your estate: Make sure that you're covered when you die or if you become incapacitated. Will your designees, beneficiaries, and heirs know what you want them to do or have? Who's going to make your health-related decisions on your behalf? A living will or advance directive can be executed before they're needed. If you own property, a living trust may help ensure that your assets are properly distributed when you pass. An estate-planning attorney can help you with all of these issues.
#7 Understand where you need help and how to get it. Talk with professionals to understand the areas where you may need help.
Reference: Forbes (March 15, 2016) "7 Ways to Have the Most Successful Retirement"