Key to-do items if you want to retire within 10 years

If you hope to retire within the next decade, now is a good time to map out a strategy. Having a well-thought-out plan will minimize the stress that comes with such a big transition -- and maximize your financial security.


"It takes at least three years to run through all of the adjustments and thoughtful discussions to be had. There are quite a few variables, so it is important to build solutions rather than attempt to craft it all in a year," said San Diego-based certified financial planner Leonard Wright.


Here are five key issues to consider as you begin to tailor a plan.


1. Figure out what you'll be spending

Most people want to be able to have enough money in retirement to maintain their quality of life. Well, how much is that quality costing you?


"The single biggest thing that someone can do to help themselves with retirement planning is figuring out what they spend now," said Ann Minnium, a certified financial planner based in Margate City, New Jersey.


Create a list of your present-day expenses. Then edit it to better reflect what you'll likely be spending 10 years from now.


So, for instance, cross off current expenses that won't be an issue when you retire, such as those college tuition payments you no longer will need to make, or a mortgage that might be paid off.


Then add new expenses you are likely to incur, such as the cost of unsubsidized health insurance if you retire before you qualify for Medicare. Think, too, about anticipated costs over time if your health declines.


Consider as well what vision you have for how you want to spend your time in retirement, Wright suggested, like travel or hobbies. Then figure out the costs associated with those activities.


Also if you're someone who buys a new car every few years, put that on the list too.

In terms of living expenses, do you plan to move to a lower-cost area when you retire? "Do some reconnaissance first," Minnium suggested, like visiting locations on your wish list to get a better feel of what things cost there.


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