There are many things to consider when building your personal retirement plan. Your retirement is yours, no one else’s, and should be based on your hopes and dreams, your desires and goals. Having a plan is an absolute necessity to achieving your goals. Just like you wouldn’t take a road trip to an unknown location without a map, you cannot reach your retirement goals without a plan.
Define Your Current Financial Situation
Your retirement plan should begin with a thorough assessment of your current financial situation, before you even begin to plan for your retirement years. To assess your current financial situation, you must list in detail your assets, liabilities, salary and any passive income you may have.
Your assets include cash in the bank in checking and savings, any savings in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), college savings funds, the equity in your home or business, company stock from your employment, and even items of value such as coins or jewels.
Listing your assets on paper is key to really identifying your current financial situation.
Listing your assets is only half of the equation, you’ll also want to detail all your liabilities such as all debt payments including your home or auto, credit or loan payments, contracts for services such as lawn or home care, child or elderly care and medical expenses.
Do you ever wonder where all your money went? Is it difficult to save for things you want to do or purchase? Listing all your liabilities allows you to clearly see where you spend your money, and helps to stay focused when you develop your budget.
Salary and all Income
List your current salary and all income sources including passive income such as rental income. You may want list all income earned each month, for ease in comparing to monthly liabilities. You’ll also want to project your salary out for the remaining number of years you plan to work, once you determine your desired retirement age, to know how much you’ll have to contribute towards your goals before you retire.
Develop a Current Budget
Once you list your assets, liabilities and all income sources, it’s time to put it all together in an organized budget so you can clearly see exactly how much you spend each month, and where you spend it. There are several templates for a basic budget, and your bank may even offer some free resources like software that tracks and graphs your expenses by category.
Detailing your current financial situation before beginning your retirement plan is crucial. You cannot get to where you want to go, if you don’t even know where you currently stand.
Developing Your Personal Retirement Plan
Your retirement should be a fun and relaxing time of your life. You’ve worked very hard to reach this stage of your life, make sure that you can do the things you want to with a sound retirement plan.
The wise words of Benjamin Franklin still ring true today – “failing to plan, is planning to fail”.
Determine Your Retirement Age
While the average age that most people retire and begin receiving funds from their pension is age 65, with proper planning you may be able to retire sooner if you like. Perhaps you would like to spend some time traveling before you reach age 65, while you know you are still in good health. Or maybe you want to spend more time with grandchildren.
Determine the ideal age that you would retire, and multiply your number of working years left by your annual income to project your maximum earning power before retirement.
Project Your Retirement Income
Do you plan to quit working altogether, or maintain some part-time work? You should make a list of every income source you’ll have during retirement, which includes:
- Salary from part time work
- Pension from your government CPP plan
- Employer pension if you have one
- Business or Partnership income
- Passive income
- Investment Income
- Any other income source or revenue that will continue into retirement
You will have to refer back to your budget and monthly liability expenses, to make sure that you can maintain your expenses during retirement. If not, make a plan to reduce your liabilities during retirement years and consider new income sources that could still give you the freedom you desire in retirement.
Evaluate Your Assets and Liquidity
Liquidity matters, and especially during your retirement when you no longer have the weekly or bi-weekly salary covering your living expenses. While illiquid assets are valuable for generating long term gains, you need liquid assets in times of emergency. You will want to evaluate your assets in terms of liquidity and consider which assets could be sold to reduce liabilities or cover emergency situations.
Location for Retirement
If you plan to move during retirement, perhaps to a warmer climate or near your grown children or grandchildren, conduct some research into real estate options and the cost of living in the new location. You can run a new scenario with your assets and liabilities projected for your current location versus your new desired location.
Provisions for Medical Expenses
Do not forget to allocate funds in your retirement plan budget for medical expenses. Health care costs are continually rising, and you should be sure that you can afford any insurance premiums and co-pays for prescriptions or doctor visits, and plan to save some extra for the unexpected.
Third Party Expenses
Include in your retirement plan any third-party expenses such as donations and charities, so that you can continue these in your retirement.
Estate Planning and Developing a Will
It is extremely important to develop a will, a living will, medical directives and funeral planning. While these are things that we often do not want to think about, in most cases we do not expect to need these items any time soon, it is vitally important to tackle this area as soon as possible. You should not wait until retirement to develop your estate plan, but if you do not have a will, you absolutely must include this in your retirement plan. As they say, if you don’t decide what to do with your estate, someone else will do it for you.
If you enter your Golden Years without a solid plan, you are basically planning to fail. A well thought out, detailed plan, developed years before you reach retirement age, is key to having the financial freedom to live comfortably and do the things you want to for the rest of your life.
SCORE Financial Services Offers Group Retirement Plans for Employees
Show your employees that you value them with providing retirement plans from a licensed and experienced financial planning firm. Score Financial Services offers:
- Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs)
- Voluntary Retirement Savings Plans (VRSPs)
- Individual retirement Plans
- Executive Retirement Plans
- Defined Benefit Pension Plans
- Defined Contribution Pension Plans
- Deferred Profit Sharing Plan (DPSP)
- Employee Savings Plan/ Non-Registered Plan
- Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
At SCORE Financial Services, we have over three decades of experience with financial planning, retirement planning and group insurance plan services. We invite you to contact us today to learn more about how we can help you create and execute your retirement plan.