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Retirement planning

December is a time when many people set New Year's resolutions. For many Americans, this will include defining and setting financial goals. According to a Federal Reserve study, only around 45% of non-retired adults over the age of 60 believe their retirement planning is on track. Have you thought about retirement lately? It’s never too early to plan, and this financial checklist will help you prepare. 

Working From Home Causes Retirement Delays

Over the past couple of years, working from home has become the norm[1]. This relocation is actually changing when people decide to retire. An Office for National Statistics study from June 2020 reports that 11% of older people who work from home plan to retire later than they had originally thought, compared to 5% of older people who still had to work in the office[2]

The shift to working from home during the pandemic means that many older adults, especially those with health or mobility issues or who use medical alert systems, have continued working. Clocking in from home reduces commute time and makes it easier for older folks to stay at their jobs. Seniors are able to seek out the mental and social stimulation that working provides without leaving the comfort of their homes.

The coronavirus pandemic also impacted non-work options for retirees. Seniors who would have otherwise retired and gone on to volunteer at places of worship or community centers had to stay home and self-isolate. The lack of non-work options could also contribute to a delayed retirement plan.

However, the past couple of pandemic years have surprised everyone. If you are considering retirement, it’s better to make a plan now, even if you’d like to work from home for a few more years. 

A Financial Checklist for Elderly People Who Have Not Yet Retired

Your retirement is going to take a lot of planning, so you should start now! As you work through this checklist, these financial moves will help you prepare.

Reduce Debts

Ideally, you should retire without any lingering debt. Pay off as much as possible before you retire[3]. You should target your high-interest consumer debt first. Student loans come next, followed by mortgage debt. If you default on student loans, you could owe up to 15% per Social Security benefit check until the loans are paid. 

Retiring with debt ultimately impacts your retirement income. If you retire while still owing money, you might need to dip into your retirement savings or pick up a part-time job to help pay off what is owed. 

Assess Your Income

Make an honest, exhaustive evaluation of your current spending. Once you have an idea of your spending habits, you can move on to figuring out your projected income. You can determine how much of your income will be accessible from your investments, Social Security, and pension. 

This assessment will help you figure out how long your savings will accommodate your retirement budget. You can also start to decide when you will take Social Security. The benefits kick in at 62, but you’ll claim bigger benefits if you wait until 66 or 67. Waiting until 70 rewards you with the biggest payment.  

Research Health Insurance

Once you retire, you will likely need a different health insurance plan. Medicare eligibility begins at age 65. If you retire before 65, you’ll need private insurance. Health insurance is costly. Some retirees choose to work a part-time job in order to pay for a health care plan. 

During 2022, an Affordable Care Act premium will cost you no more than 8.5% of your income[4]. Make sure to check if you qualify for a federal subsidy to supplement your health care payments. 

Evaluate Your Portfolio

This part of your financial planning might require the help of a professional. A financial planner can help you look at different portfolio projections. You should test your portfolio’s capacity to support your retirement needs. This means that you might need to adjust the portfolio before you retire, whether that includes adding to it or reeling it in.

A financial planner will guide you to make portfolio decisions that reflect the current market and help you avoid common mistakes[5]. Professional guidance will allow you to have a supportive financial safety net.

Review Your Budget

Practice living on your retirement income during the year before you actually retire. This way, you can make adjustments as necessary without the real-life implications of retirement. Take time to really think: does your budget account for entertainment and travel? Will it be able to sustain long-term care?

If your retirement cash flow is a little less than you are used to, you should start to consider how you can prioritize your care without going over-budget. Simple, cost-effective tools, like a medical alert system, allow you to get the support you need without depleting your income.

Retirement Lifestyle Choices You Need to Make

The following tips will inform your retirement budget and impact your financial planning. As a retiree, you have the opportunity to completely redesign your life. What will you do, and importantly, how will you afford it?

List The Possibilities

What do you want your retirement to look like? Do you have a partner or children to consider? Where will you live? Will you volunteer? Travel?

There are so many possibilities for your retirement. As you put together your projected income and budget, you will start to see what options are available to you. Make a list of potential locations, hobbies, interests, and travel plans. Retirees who do not have enough stimulation often experience feelings of depression and anxiety[6]. Staying active may also require extra tools, like an On-the-Go Wrist Watch Medical Alert + GPS + Pedometer. A solid and fulfilling retirement plan will boost your mental health. If you’re retiring with a partner, make sure you plan together.

Retirement Dry Run

Similar to the way you will create a retirement budget and test it the year before you retire, you’ll want to test out your retirement plan. Sure, running a bed and breakfast in the White Mountains of New Hampshire may sound great right now, but spending a week volunteering at one can help you decide if it’s really for you. 

Essentially, you need to practice retirement. You’re about to enter a completely different phase of your life. Testing out different lifestyle choices can help make this phase more enjoyable and relaxing. If you’re retiring with a partner, it’s doubly important that both of your needs are met. A trial-and-run retirement period can help you get clear on what really matters.

Choose Living Arrangements

Choosing where you will live is an integral part of creating your retirement budget. You’ll start by listing off potential locations, but you’ll narrow down that list by conducting retirement practice runs. However, location isn’t just about the place, but your actual living arrangements. Will you age-in-place, or join a retirement community? Do you have plans for long-term care if you need it? 

Different living arrangements come with different price tags. Figuring out your living arrangements will help other parts of your financial plan fall into place. Once you decide where you will live and receive care, you can begin to choose care elements, like a caregiver or a medical alert system, you might like to use.

Explore Living Arrangements

This is a little different than conducting your retirement test run. Exploring living arrangements means touring retirement communities, or even visiting nursing homes. Your long-term care plan is part of your retirement, though that thought sometimes makes people nervous. The more thought you put into long-term care now, the easier it will be if the time comes that you need it.

Dive into different locales and facilities. Talk to the people who live there, take a walk around the grounds, and visit in different seasons. Determine if different tools, like an In-Home medical alert system, might make you feel more comfortable in new spaces. If you’re not ready to consider different living arrangements, then pour that energy into figuring out your dream location instead. 

Take Care of the Details

Once you’ve taken time to dive into your retirement needs and wants, determined what your retirement budget can accommodate, and put in your resignation, the time for retirement is here! For many of you, this is a time of huge transition. You’re not only adjusting to a different lifestyle balance, but you might also be adjusting to an entirely different locale. 

If you move to a new town, you’ll need to transition to a new care team. Connect with your current doctor and see if they have any recommendations for doctors in your new hometown. You will need to make local connections beyond your care team. Establish new points-of-contact with a local bank, DMV, lawyer, and financial planner. This is also an opportune time to update your will and other legal documents.

A Medical Alert System Should Be Part of Your Plan

No matter where and when you retire, your retirement plan should have some non-negotiable additions. A medical alert system is a budget-friendly essential that will increase your comfort and safety in this new phase of your life. You can choose from monthly plans without long-term contracts.

If you’re out on a walk and you fall, a press of the On-the-Go + Fall Detection medical alert system’s button will connect you with a 24/7 Command Center. A certified, trained agent will stay on the line with you until help arrives. An affordable medical alert system can help you feel secure and comfortable in your retirement and with prices starting at less than $20 per month, it can fit into whatever financial plan you need to make. 


[1] Parker, Kim, Horowitz, Juliana Menasce, Minkin, Rachel. 2020, Dec. 9. How the Coronavirus Outbreak Has – and Hasn’t – Changed the Way Americans Work. Pew Research Center. How the Coronavirus Outbreak Has – and Hasn’t – Changed the Way Americans Work.

[2] Coombs, Ngaire. 2021, Aug. 25. Living longer: impact of working from home on older workers. Office for National Statistics. Living longer: impact of working from home on older workers.

[3] Birken, Emily Guy, Schmidt, John. 2021, Mar. 29. Retirement Planning: How to Get Out of Debt Before Retirement. Forbes Advisor. Retirement Planning: How to Get Out of Debt Before Retirement.

[4] Norris, Louise. 2021, Aug. 24. Will you receive an ACA premium subsidy? Will you receive an ACA premium subsidy?

[5] Gravier, Elizabeth. 2021, Jun. 22. Here are the 7 biggest investing makes you want to avoid, according to financial experts. CNBC Select. Here are the 7 biggest investing makes you want to avoid, according to financial experts.

[6] Brockman, Katie. 2019, Jun. 11. The one retirement risk you’re probably not preparing for? Depression. USA Today. The one retirement risk you’re probably not preparing for? Depression.