The year is already past the midway mark. Yet with all the hoopla surrounding the stock market hitting new highs, you may have gotten distracted from checking in on how your retirement plan is progressing.
That’s understandable, but you don’t want to put off your mid-year retirement checkup too long. Here are the three things you should do now to determine if your retirement plan is still on track — and if not, how to improve your outlook.
1. Determine where you stand now.
The idea here is to see whether what you’re currently doing to prepare for retirement is actually working — in other words, whether you have a realistic shot at a comfortable retirement if you continue on your current path.
You can do this sort of evaluation by going to a retirement tool like T. Rowe Price’s Retirement Income Calculator, which you can find along with other tools in RealDealRetirement’s Tools & Calculators section.
Enter such information as your age, salary, retirement account balances, the percentage of pay you’re contributing to those accounts each year, the age at which you’d like to retire, and your projected Social Security benefit. (The calculator will estimate that for you — or you can go to Social Security’s Retirement Estimator and get a figure based on your earnings history and expected future earnings.)
The tool will then calculate the probability that withdrawals from your savings plus Social Security benefits will be able to generate the income you’ll need throughout retirement.
Generally, you’d like your chances to be in the neighborhood of 80% or so, if not higher. If they’re well below that level, that’s not necessarily cause for panic. Rather, it’s a sign that you probably need to change things up a bit — say, by saving more or planning on delaying retirement a couple of years to give your nest egg more time to grow.
The point is that by going through this exercise periodically and seeing whether your probability of success is trending up or down, you can get a more realistic sense whether you’re making progress toward a secure retirement.
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