Retirement Planning Checklist for Couples and Individuals

Many professionals agree that there is a retirement crisis in America, and that it’s likely to get worse in coming years. Americans aren’t saving enough to retire, much less to provide for a comfortable life during their golden years.1 In fact, people aren’t saving enough to even cover current expenses plus modest setbacks.  

The Federal Reserve found that 12% of adults couldn’t cover their monthly bills if they had an unexpected expense of just $400.2 Additionally, they found that 33% of adults would be unable to pay their bills, or are a single, small setback away from economic hardship. 

Lack of foresight and planning might not be to blame; the real culprit seems to be an issue of income. When you don’t earn enough to cover monthly living expenses or deal with minor financial issues, you aren’t in a position to save for the future. Stagnant wages, lack of access to retirement planning tools, and career setbacks are also to blame. Fortunately, no matter your position today, you can take measures to create a financially sound future. 

Retirement Planning Checklist 

Retirement will happen, even if you’re not prepared for it. Fortunately, you can help set the stage for financial confidence in retirement. And while everyone’s circumstances might vary, the following list of important retirement planning steps can help you get started toward the right path.   

Determine your post-retirement expenses. 

Exactly how much do you need to save in order to retire comfortably? This is a big question that depends on how you plan to spend money after retirement. First, consider what type of retirement life you want. Do you want to travel the world or are you a homebody? What do you spend monthly now and how will that change when you retire? 

Create a retirement budget

Estimate your retirement income and list your monthly fixed expenses, like housing. Next, add in variable payments and compare them against your estimated retirement income. This gives you a rough idea of what your finances would look like at various income levels. You can adjust your estimated retirement income to see what saving more today might do for you in your retirement years. 

⃞ Look at your Social Security statement

Social Security income isn’t something you should solely rely on for retirement planning, but it is an income stream you should consider. You can view your Social Security statement to see how much you might receive per month in Social Security benefits when you retire. 

Audit your assets and debts

Taking inventory of your assets and your debts is a good way to get a quick snapshot of your financial health. You can create a spreadsheet to track your debts, income, savings, and assets. This includes everything from your cars and your home to valuable possessions. When things change, update your spreadsheet to keep your snapshot current.

Eliminate as much debt as possible.

You should work to reduce debt during your working years so that your retirement savings don’t go toward servicing debt. Start by paying off smaller lines of credit like credit cards and car loans. When you pay one thing off, take the payment you would have made on it and pay it toward your next debt. This will help you reduce your debt more quickly.

⃞ Build up an emergency fund

Financial emergencies can quickly derail you if you’re not prepared. This can lead people to cash in retirement accounts, run up credit cards and create a situation that’s hard to recover from. By saving up three or more full months of living expenses, you can more easily weather emergencies, leaving your retirement savings untouched.

Take advantage of retirement planning instruments 

If you’re eligible to participate in a 401(k), take full advantage of it. Many companies offer some type of matching contribution as well. This can help expedite your efforts to create a nest egg for your future. There are additional retirement planning tools available, like Roth IRAs. You should consult with a financial advisor to determine the best path for your unique situation. 

Consider retirement housing 

Do you currently live in the home you will retire in and will it be paid off? Will you need to downsize or even relocate? Any long-term plan should address your housing needs, which can change after retirement and might include the need for assisted living. Your retirement plan should examine these options so that you’re ready for whatever comes your way. 

Consider health insurance

Healthcare costs are a large expense for many retired people. While Medicare is widely available for those 65 and older, it’s not without its costs and limitations. Most commonly, workers have paid enough into the system that they don’t have to pay for Medicare Part A coverage, which helps pay for hospital and nursing homes. Part B, however, covers standard medical care and does come with a monthly premium that varies based on your income. Medicare’s coverage is limited; will your supplemental insurance be enough? Talk to a financial advisor about advanced health care planning and the rising costs of long-term care.  

Retirement Resources

Talking with an experienced financial advisor is a great way to actively plan for retirement. They can look at your situation and offer you specific advice based on where you are and where you want to be when you reach retirement age. 

Additionally, there are many helpful sources online that can give you insight and info as you work toward retirement readiness. 

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

Neither our firm nor its agents or representatives may give tax or legal advice. Be sure to speak with a qualified professional about your unique situation.

Our firm is not affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. government or any governmental agency. Investment advisory services offered only by duly registered individuals through AE Wealth Management, LLC (AEWM). AEWM and Lundervold Financial are not affiliated companies. 873373-4/21


1 Teresa Ghilarducci. Forbes. March 28, 2019. “Americans Do Not Have Enough Retirement Savings, Really.” Accessed Feb. 18, 2021.

2 Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. May 2019. “Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2018.” Accessed Feb. 18, 2021.

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