What should you do when you're five years from retiring?

By Daniel Kurt AAA
A:

One of the first steps you should take at this stage is avoid the pitfall many pre-retirees experienced in 2008 – overexposure to stocks. Sure, you'll want to keep a significant equity portion of your portfolio to boost potential gains, but you won't have as much time as younger workers to make up lost ground if the market sinks. A conservative rule of thumb is to keep a percentage of stocks equal to 100 minus your age. If you're 60 years old, that means keeping 40% of your investments in stocks and putting the rest in bonds or money market accounts. More aggressive investors will sometimes use "110 minus your age," instead.

With just five years to go in your full-time job, it's not too late to get a realistic retirement budget together. On the income side of the ledger, figure out how much you'll reasonably be able to count on from savings, Social Security and 401(k)s, and if you're lucky, a traditional pension plan. Then total your expenses. Factor in two of the biggest outlays anyone in their 50s or 60s should anticipate later in life: medical needs and long-term care.

While you may have paid into Medicare throughout your working years, it's still not free for most recipients. The Part B component typically costs about $100 a month, and if you want to boost your coverage, you could be paying significantly more than that for Medicare Advantage.

Even if you're in great health today, now is the time to be thinking about the considerable assisted living and nursing home costs that may lie ahead. For those with moderate net-worth, long-term care insurance is often a good idea, even so, it can cost several hundred dollars a month. There are several online tools that can help provide an estimate based on your age, the state you live in and other factors.

Creating a budget can help you make minor adjustments to your retirement plan that could make a big impact later. If you forecast a deficit, you may need to work a year or two longer, but at least you'll feel more secure in your golden years.

In reality, making decisions about where to put money and whether to buy insurance gets complicated. Often, it's a good idea to talk with a knowledgeable financial adviser who can help you understand your options and chart the best course forward. Even if a consultation costs a few hundred dollars or more, sound advice can help put you on solid footing for the next phase of your life and provide peace of mind.

Of course, even those who prepare diligently for retirement will occasionally need some additional income after their primary career is over. Maybe you're planning to work part-time in a different field. If so, start researching what you'll need to do ahead of time, whether it's getting a special certification or having some volunteer experience under your belt. When the day of retirement finally arrives, you'll be ready to embark on your new endeavor and develop an added revenue stream.

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