May 10, 2017
About 4 million American baby boomers will reach retirement age every year for the next 14 years. If you’re one of them, the best time to move from passive saving to active planning is now, according to Craig Bartlett, CFP, Division Consulting Manager for U.S. Bancorp Investments. Somewhere between the last chapter of your career and the first chapter of your golden years, he says, is a transitional period known as “pre-retirement.” Although there’s no hard and fast rule for when this phase should start or how long it should last, if you’re not paying attention, it could arrive too late and pass too quickly.
Unfortunately, Americans are having trouble saving for retirement. More than half of the country's private-sector workers have no retirement savings, according to an analysis of a 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) published by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in 2015.*
“Pre-retirement for far too many people consists of when they finish their last day at work and find themselves wondering how they’re going to get through the next 20 to 30 years,” Bartlett says. “Well before your retirement date, you should start thinking about what retirement’s going to look like and laying the foundation for it.”
Indeed, whether retirement is five years away or 15, there are things you can begin doing today to make retirement go more smoothly tomorrow. Here are six of them.
1. Envision Your Retirement
Retirement planning should start in your head, not in your bank account, according to Bartlett. “Retirement is analogous to going on the vacation of a lifetime,” he says. “Most people want to know where they’re going, where they’re going to be staying and what attractions there are to see along the way. If you sit down and get a clear understanding of what’s important to you, you’ve got a much greater chance of accomplishing that.”