Preparing for Retirement Checklist: The 7 Essential Steps You Need to Take
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As you approach retirement, there are numerous things to consider. You’re definitely better off thinking about these things early. Reviewing your finances, working out your future income and deciding the best time to retire is what’ll allow you to live the post-work lifestyle you’re after.
While some completely retire at 65 or earlier, others prefer to gradually ease their way into retirement. Whatever your preference, you can use our handy preparing for retirement checklist to ease you into later life.
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The 7 Essential Steps to Prepare for Retirement:
- Choose when to retire (and know your options)
- Consider different income options
- Work out your probable retirement income
- Figure out how much money you’ll have in retirement
- Will you need to provide for others?
- Get financial advice or independent guidance
- Emotionally prepare for retirement
1. Choose when to retire (and know your options)
Some people can choose the age they retire at, while others will keep working until their pensions kick in to provide the financial security that makes retirement possible.
A pension calculator is a handy tool that helps you work out how much you’ll need to save to reach your retirement goal. By using one of these, you’ll be shown whether you’re on track to achieve your retirement goal, depending on things like how much you’re currently saving and how much your current pension pot is worth.
You can also use a pension tracing service to see if you've lost track of a pension pot.
2. Consider different income options
Depending on the kinds of pensions and assets you have, you might need to think about what money you’ll have available.
Whether you own your home or rent, you’ll need to consider where you’ll want to live when you retire. If you do own it, then this property could end up playing a significant role in your future.
If you’re after a lifestyle change - and may move as a result - then downsizing can end up being a really smart option. With more independent living options, many retirees are choosing to sell their homes and move to a desirable retirement village or retirement home in the countryside, or a similarly appealing urban setting. Though quite expensive, retirement homes offer a lifestyle which is luxurious and comfortable in equal measure.
You could have access to several pensions, including the State Pension. The current UK State Pension age for men and women is 66.
The amount you’ll receive depends on your National Insurance record. You can check your state pension forecast to see how much you could get and when. Couples get the same amount of State Pension (per person) as individuals.
Currently, the full new state pension is £203.85 per week. The State Pension increased by 10.1% in April 2023.
There are also defined benefits pensions and defined contribution pensions. These are based on how much you’ve earnt across the course of your lifetime.
Other sources of income
Aside from pensions and assets like your home, here are a few other sources of income that may be attainable to you. Unlike pensions, this income isn’t guaranteed and will likely vary over time:
- Part-time employment
- Savings and investments
- Selling any other possessions you no longer need
3. Work out your probable retirement income
You should now be able to work out your potential retirement income. Your income in later life could come from a state pension or workplace pension, along with any money gained from selling assets and any other sources of income you might have.
Get a state pension statement
This will tell you roughly how much state pension you can expect to receive. You can check this forecast through GOV.UK.
Find out how much you might get from a defined benefit pension
To get a retirement quote, speak to your pension provider.
Find out how much you have in your defined contribution pension pot
You should be sent an annual statement that shows how much is in your pot.
Add up the savings and investments that could be used for your retirement
A pension is one of the most reliable ways to save for your retirement. Any other savings and investments you have can provide a much-needed boost as well.
4. Figure out how much money you’ll have in retirement
There’s a good chance you’ll have less money to live on in retirement, meaning you’ll need to adapt to a different spending pattern.
Once you have a better idea of your income and spending needs in retirement, you’ll then be able to work out how much money you’re likely to be left with.
Modern retirement takes many forms, and an increasing number of people are choosing to keep working until a later age, sometimes on a part-time basis. Are you going to gradually prepare for retirement or immediately stop working at a certain age?
Along with changing work habits, consider how major events could impact your finances post-retirement. Getting prepared early will ensure you have a retirement plan in place, should the need for long-term care strike. Your next of kin might also need some financial help, whether this is with education or getting on the property ladder. Again, these are things that need factoring in.
To prepare for these changes and help you plan ahead, we’d recommend making a budget of the things you’ll need to spend money on, and the things you’d like to spend money on. Put another way, your essentials and your desirables.
5. Will you need to provide for others?
When you retire and after you’ve passed away, will you need to make provisions for a partner, next of kin or another family member? This could be an elderly parent in need of financial help, a grown-up child buying their first home or ensuring your significant other is properly set up and cared for.
6. Get financial advice or independent guidance
To best understand your ingoings and outgoings, you should access any and all support available to you, including money advice services. Pension Wise is a free and impartial guidance service offered by the Government once you reach 50. This service aims to help you understand your retirement options. You can reach them through the link above, or by calling on 0800 280 8880. You can also book an appointment for a face-to-face consultation about your retirement plan.
Alternatively, you might also like to contact an independent financial adviser or pensions advisory service. Though the information and advice you’ll receive will probably be more tailored and in-depth, it can end up being quite costly.
7. Emotionally prepare for retirement
While being able to leave the world of work behind and the abundance of free time that goes with this might sound appealing to many, it can still be difficult to adjust to. A loss of routine and a different sense of purpose can lead to some recent retirees feeling low.
Along with the financial preparations we’ve discussed, it’s important to focus on your wellbeing in retirement. One of the best ways to do this is by giving your days a sense of structure and routine. You should also make an effort to continue socialising with any work friends you’ve left behind.
Here are a few other ways to emotionally prepare for retirement:
- Keep in regular contact with family and friends
- Create a daily and weekly routine to give your days a sense of purpose
- Do regular exercise
- Join local groups that offer hobbies for people of a similar age
Living in a retirement community encompasses many of these points. By living amongst similarly-aged retirees in a friendly, self-contained yet independent environment with heaps of activities and things to do, residents’ wellbeing will massively benefit. A lack of socialisation is also much less likely to be a problem, so they’re definitely an option worth looking into!
Meanwhile, warden controlled housing is usually located within a retirement community and acts as a form of supported living.
Other Retirement Advice
Here are a handful of extra pieces of advice to help you prepare for and ease into retirement.
What benefits will you receive?
Here are the benefits you could potentially claim in retirement:
- State pension
- Pension credit
- Council tax
Disability and care benefits
- Disability Living Allowance
- Attendance allowance (check out our guide on Attendance Allowance pitfalls to avoid as well)
Travel and TV benefits
Benefits for war widows or widowers
- Medical costs for war pensioners
- War disablement pension
Can you retire early?
There’s no longer a fixed age at which you have to retire - the decision is up to you. With that being said, before giving up work, you’ll first need to be in a secure financial position to fund your retirement years.
The removal of the default retirement age in 2011 means that the decision to retire is now in the hands of individuals. In most cases, you can’t be made to retire when you reach 65.
However, it’s still possible for certain employers to impose a compulsory retirement age, assuming they can objectively justify it (e.g. police officers or doctors).
So to answer the question, yes, you usually can retire early (where it’s financially sensible to do so).
Retirement living developments offer secure, vibrant and luxurious housing with state-of-the-art facilities for older adults. Request a free retirement living shortlist and we’ll recommend retirement properties matching your budget, location and desired facilities.