Financial Planning for Retirement

If you're serious about financial planning for retirement, you probably know that the retirement calculators available at most financial services websites are much too general to be of much use for serious retirement planning.

Their usefulness ranges from brainstorming tools to general savings goal tools.

You need more than just a savings goal of so-many-thousand-dollars or millions-of-dollars. The key to a good retirement plan is having a budget.

You need to know why you need to save what you save, and what you are saving for.

Although it doesn't sound like a financial topic, you also need to think about the things you'll do after you retire, where you may live, what kind of health you'll have, and so on.

Indirectly, these do have a financial component that should be included in your planning.

Once you have ideas for your retiree lifestyle, then you can answer the "how much to retire" and other financial questions with more confidence.

And, it won’t do you much good to think about those things when you're in your 20's or 30's. You don't have enough information yet.

In the early stages of financial planning for retirement, you just need to focus on putting aside a portion of your money automatically (in tax free savings.)

Avoid the Biggest Obstacle to Financial Health

Credit card debt can get people in trouble at any stage of life, and it can get in the way of your being ready to retire, too.

Learn more about avoiding this trap or getting out of it in the

Eliminating Credit Card Debt article series which includes:

Paying Off Credit Card Debt,

Consolidating Credit Card Debt,

and Choosing the Best Credit Card Offer.

Now and then review your portfolio, re-balance, and increase your contribution rate each year or whenever you get a raise, making sure to get the full match, if available.

When you are thinking about those financial tasks, increase your financial knowledge by learning something new. See how your finances might change over the years here.

For example, read other pages of this website, like the article on Average Retirement Income as well as other resources like the pamphlets that come with your account statements from financial institutions. Read articles at, MSN's money section, and the websites where you bank or hold savings.

Detailed Financial Planning for Retirement

pencil and notebook

When you reach your mid-to-late 40's, or about 5 to 10 years before you retire, you need to do more in-depth planning. This is especially important if you plan to retire early (without Social Security).

Here is a summary of the plan you’ll need to build your own customized retirement calculator. Be sure to continue to the next topic page (bottom) for the detailed planning version if you are 5 to 10 years or less from retiring.

Next Steps for Detailed Planning

  • The Budgets - figure out what you need for each month
  • Start with your current spending - Develop or update your current budget
  • From your current budget, begin developing your retirement budget and create your own retirement calculator.
  • Brainstorm to fill in future budget items that you don't have in your current budget
  • Hobbies, Travel? Think about how you will spend your time
  • Add it all up to determine your future income needs
  • Income sources - where will your monthly "paycheck" come from?
  • Now you're ready to determine your savings goal for your nest egg!

See the detailed financial planning tips.

Good planning is critical and a cookie-cutter approach is too risky to use. Will you rely solely on Social Security or do you also plan to withdraw from your retirement savings for basic living expenses?

You may want to look into annuities if you prefer not to manage your money, but learning about the options is a must before you can decide.

The information here and throughout this site will bring you success in your financial planning for retirement!

After you complete this part of your financial planning for retirement, consult a fee-only financial advisor who has experience with retirement planning.

This advisor can help you fine-tune your plan and make suggestions for specific investments.

Throughout this website, you will find suggestions, tips, and ideas for tackling this important topic