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Preparing to retire? Here’s a checklist of what to do

As early as a decade before your retirement is an excellent time to start evaluating various feasible choices you need to make to better your golden years. Before you leave your profession, it’s essential to scrutinise your money and lifestyle as these can shape the remainder of your life. Thorough preparation will give you complete control over your money and life as well as any unexpected emergencies.

Are you preparing to retire? Here’s a checklist of what to do.

Determine how much retirement income you need

Before anything else, you need to work out your expenses in relation to how much income will be streaming in in retirement. This is best done a few years before retirement.

Start with the following if they apply in your case:

Get a State Pension Statement

This will enable you to estimate the amount of State Pension you’re eligible for based on your contributions to the National Insurance scheme.

Determine the amount you’ll get from your defined benefit pension

Ask to be provided with the latest statement showing the amount of pension you’ve accrued as well as what to expect upon retirement.

Add up savings and any investments available for use in your retirement

In addition to your pension, you might also have other savings and investments that could help boost your income when you retire. Take inventory of these too.

Trace any lost pensions

The government runs a free service known as the Pension Tracing Service. Use it to find out if you’ve lost any old pension you might have built over the years.

Create a retirement budget

After estimating your retirement income, you can go ahead and list your monthly fixed expenses such as housing and mortgage. Then, add in variable payments and compare this against your estimated income. This should give you a rough idea of how your finances would work at various income levels. You can tweak your estimated retirement income to determine how saving more today can benefit your retirement years.

Avoid risking your pension savings

If you already have a personal or workplace pension where you have a pension pot, chances are you’ve invested the money in funds. This is why it makes sense to move this money to lower-risk investments gradually. Start this as early as possible such as ten years before retirement. If you are not sure how to invest, it’s a good idea to get financial advice about what option best fits you.

Look into your life insurance options

Another thing you shouldn’t forget is insurance because unforeseen circumstances can have a significant impact on your family if you’re uninsured. Many employers offer life insurance as part of the employee benefits package. However, once you retire, you will likely lose coverage.

If you have it and want to keep the coverage, start the paperwork to convert it from group to individual policy. This means you’ll be paying the premium directly to the insurance company instead of having it deducted from the payroll. Having life insurance in retirement protects your beneficiaries in the event of your passing away.

Audit your assets and debts

Auditing your assets and debts is a great way to evaluate your financial health. You can do this by creating a spreadsheet to track your income, savings, assets and debts. This should include everything from your vehicles and home to the most valuable possessions. Update each change in your spreadsheet to keep your audit current.

Eliminate as much debt as possible

It’s a wise idea to reduce your debt during your working years so that your retirement savings don’t go towards settling the debt. You could start paying off in smaller lines of credit, e.g. car loans. When you’re done paying one off, move to the next debt.

Build up an emergency fund

If you are not prepared, financial emergencies can derail you real quick. It can create a situation that’s hard to recover from, forcing you to cash in retirement accounts and run up credit cards. By saving up for more than three months of living expenses, it’s easy to weather any emergencies without using a part of your retirement savings.


Preparing for retirement can be seen as overwhelming, especially as it gets closer to the last working day. Regardless, the more work you put upfront, the more you will enjoy your golden years. Remember, retirement is your last chance to enjoy your dreams and influence how you’ll be remembered. Spend each day with that in mind.

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