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Are You Ready to Retire? 4 Boxes to Check Off Your Retirement List

One of the constant refrains U.S. workers hear is that they don't have sufficient savings to retire. You can't go more than a week or two without reading in the news that another financial institution is warning that most people's retirement accounts are inadequate.

Midway through 2020, the Federal Reserve reported that the median retirement savings balance among all U.S. adults was about $60,000. The Fed's report estimated that by retirement age, the average U.S. worker's savings will have grown to $228,000. If you're an average U.S. worker, you might be asking yourself if that's enough to retire.

It might be. It might not be. Those saving for retirement all their working lives don't always have a true idea of what their retirement "number" is, what they need to have socked away in order to stop working.

Hitting a number, though, might not be the best way to look at it. In fact, being able to retire might be more of a checklist of conditions to meet. If you're wondering if you're ready to retire, here are four boxes to check off your list.

Enough income

The reason that hitting a specific savings number doesn't always tell the whole story is because nobody really knows how long they'll live. If you have enough money put away to live 25 years after you retire but you live another 10 past that, how will you afford it?

Instead, it's really more a matter of income. When you lose the income from your paycheck, will you still have enough money coming in each month or year to cover all your expenses? Income would include Social Security, investment income, and/or earnings from a pension or part-time job.

Reduced debt

One of the simpler ways to ensure you have enough income to cover your expenses is to lower those expenses. Lowering expenses is often easier than increasing or maintaining an income.

If you're headed toward your golden years, reducing debt can be a critical strategy. Do you have a mortgage you can pay off before retiring so that you don't have a house payment? Can you get any credit cards or auto loans paid before your income is reduced?

Taking debt into retirement means you're paying costs right when you retire as well as going forward, as debt interest continues to compound over time.

Healthcare coverage

Even when people are still working full-time, medical expenses can wreak havoc on a household's finances. As you get older, it's likely your healthcare needs will increase, which means it's important that your medical costs are covered.

Whether you'll continue to be covered by your employer in retirement, rely on Medicare, or purchase your own health insurance, it will be vital to know what your out-of-pocket costs will be. Healthcare coverage can be a significant part of whether you have enough income to cover all your expenses when you retire.

Emergency fund

According to the financial services company Bankrate, 60 percent of Americans would not be able to cover an unexpected $1,000 expense that comes up. And unexpected expenses don't suddenly stop popping up just because you've retired.

In fact, unexpected expenses can be even more devastating in retirement because you don't have the same earning potential to deal with any money you have to borrow to handle the matter. You'll want to make sure you have some sort of emergency fund that will cover car repairs, major household expenses such as new appliances or a leaky roof, and even medical costs that insurance won't fully cover.

The bottom line

Most Americans are conditioned to believe they have to hit some arbitrary "number" with their savings in order to be able to retire. But if you can check off the boxes for income, debt, healthcare coverage, and emergency expenses, you might be more ready to retire than you think.

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Peter Magni, Registered Representative of Park Avenue Securities, LLC (PAS), 160 Gould Street, Suite 310, Needham, MA 02494, 781-449-4402. Securities products and services are offered through PAS, member FINRA, SIPC. Financial Representative of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. PAS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Guardian. The Bulfinch Group is not an affiliate or subsidiary of PAS or Guardian. Life insurance offered through The Bulfinch Group Insurance Agency, LLC, an affiliate of The Bulfinch Group, LLC. The Bulfinch Group, LLC is not licensed to sell insurance. The Bulfinch Group is not registered in any state or with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as a Registered Investment Advisor. CA Insurance License #OC71517; FL Insurance License #A162403. This award is not issued or endorsed by Guardian or its subsidiaries. The annual Five Star Wealth Manager award [2022] is based on criteria developed and obtained by Five Star Professional. No compensation has been provided by the adviser in connection with obtaining or using the third-party award.
2023-162904 Exp 10/25

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