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Your Retirement Planning Journey, Part 3: The Finish Line and Beyond

It's just ahead of you. The finish line. Now, there's a big question to ask: "Can I actually retire?"

An older couple with their dog looking happy in a field.

For many, retirement is a challenge, rather than a victory lap. In fact, a 20231Redirect icon study found that half of American households face the risk of having to reduce their standard of living after leaving the workforce, a problem compounded by the trend of more people living to their late 80s and 90s.

With that context, a well-considered retirement plan during your working years becomes all the more important, especially if you want to exit on your own terms and live the life you prefer. And certainly, the final years of your retirement planning journey – as well as those beyond – are just as important as the first.

Nearing the finish line

According to recent data from the Center for Retirement Research, the average retirement age is 65 for men and 62 for women. If you fall into that timeframe, it will be natural to start thinking more about the milestone once you reach your 50s. By then, consider:

  • Playing catch-up: Perhaps you got off to a late start with your retirement accounts or weren’t able to max-out contributions in certain years. When you reach the age of 50, the federal government allows for catch-contributions to certain accounts (up to $7,500 annually for employee 401(k), 403(b) and other related workplace plans; $1,000 for IRAs).
  • Making a budget: Retiring is more expensive than most people realize. Beyond the essentials and possibly housing (if you have rent or a mortgage remaining), the list of expenses is significant. For example, you may have unexpected health care costs as you age and not everything will be covered by Medicare, requiring long-term care insurance plans or paying out of pocket. Additionally, most retirees must account for utilities, transportation, debts, education (children or grandchildren’s college expenses), continued investments, recreation and potentially long-term care. Well before retirement, try to estimate these expenses and your expected income, and create a budget to help guide your savings goals.
  • Answering the Social Security question: How much retirement assistance can you expect from the federal government? Your monthly check from Social Security may not be enough to have a comfortable retirement (for many, it isn’t), and in these cases, regular income from retirement account distributions is vital. Depending on when you begin to take Social Security distributions, you may not receive your full benefit — that begins at age 67, for most nearing retirement. You’ll want to connect with Social Security officials ahead of retirement to confirm what you will receive and how it fits into your budget, as the money can cover some important expenses.

Your Golden Years

So, you’re retired and, hopefully, reaping the benefits from decades’ worth of saving. Absolutely, it’s a time to kick back and enjoy the things in life you find most fulfilling, but you’ll still have at least one job — maintaining your finances.

Depending on a host of factors, including when you retire and your health, retirement can last decades, so the money you’ve saved and other income sources will need to last to preserve your preferred lifestyle (and to, potentially, leave something in your estate for heirs). As with everything in your retirement planning journey, the job is made easier with effective preparation. These are some tips:

  • Follow Your Budget: That budget you outlined before retirement? Don’t ignore it — and make room for some savings each month. You’ll be glad when unexpected expenses inevitably arise.
  • Remember RMDs: Anyone with a taxable traditional IRA must take a Required Minimum Distribution from the account beginning at age 70½, 72, 73 or 75, depending on the retiree’s date of birth.
  • Stay debt-free: Ideally, you won’t be taking on any more significant debts, which can be a drag on monthly expenses. Vehicle or home loans may be unavoidable, but consider how major purchases may affect your long-term finances.
  • Keep in touch with your wealth manager: Your retirement planning journey never truly ends. Even your heirs will contend with the estate you build during your life and eventually leave behind, so continued meetings with your wealth manager and advisory team will enable you to best serve yourself and the ones you care about in your golden years.

For more on enjoying these golden years, check out the final article in our retirement planning series. If you’d like to go deeper on your personal journey, check out FNB Wealth Management here.

Notices & Disclosures

1 - The National Retirement Risk Index: Version 2.0 – Center for Retirement Research ( icon

Products and services offered through F.N.B. Wealth Management, which include the combined offerings of First National Trust Company, F.N.B. Investment Advisors, Inc., and F.N.B. Investment Services (a marketing name for Cetera Investment Services LLC are not FDIC insured and are not insured by any Federal Government Agency, are not deposits or obligations of or guaranteed by First National Bank of Pennsylvania or its affiliates and may go down in value.

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