Remember when two years seemed like a long time? Like when you were a little kid? Or just starting college? Or just starting your career?
Well, time does seem to compress as we age, and if you’re planning to retire soon, say, at the end of 2025, those two years are going to simply zoom by.
Even so, you can still make good use of those last two trips around the sun in your working life to better prepare for living off that nest egg. Here are some ideas to consider before you stop to smell the roses.
Reduce your debt load
“Load” isn’t just financial jargon here. Owing a lot of money when you’re not earning like you used to can be a burden on your budget and your mind. Paying off as much as you can in the next two years will help take the load off.
The idea is to be as debt-free as you can, and if that’s not doable, focus on paying down consumer debt like credit cards and car loans. If you still have a mortgage, consider paying it off over the next two years.
Review your budget, income, and assets
Create a budget that includes all your income sources, such as stock dividends and Social Security, and all your regular expenses. Look at ways to reduce your discretionary spending. For instance, now might be the time to finally cut the cable and just stream what you actually watch.
Try as best you can to anticipate your spending going forward on such things as healthcare, Medicare, and other insurance and look for ways to save there. This is also a good time to really understand your investment assets and income you’ll be getting from Social Security.
And now is a good time, if you haven’t yet, to enlist the services of a trusted financial advisor. For instance, together you may find that continuing to pay on your low-interest mortgage is a better strategy than burning off income-producing assets to retire that note.
Max out on your retirement accounts
Take advantage of your employer’s 401(k) match for the next 24 months by maxing out on your own contributions to employer-sponsored retirement plans like 401(k)s as well as IRAs. If you’re over 50, the maximum contribution allowed by the IRS this year for 401(k)s and similar plans is $30,000. The IRA contribution limit is $7,500.
Hopefully you’ve been doing something close to this all along, but even if not, if you can these next two years, it’ll make a difference to your nest egg.
Tie up loose ends and don’t burn bridges. You may need them.
Give proper notice, wrap up any projects, document your institutional knowledge as best you can, and offer to help transition accounts and hire and train your replacement.
Those are all steps you can take to be sure to leave on good terms and enable your employer to leverage the human capital your contributions have accumulated there over the years. A graceful exit not only feels good, but it’ll help leave the door open for consulting or other part-time work, and for good references.
The time is now, and it’ll pass fast
So, to summarize, if you’re planning to retire in 2025, you’ll want to make sure your finances are in order before you make this major life transition. You don’t want to run out of money down the line, after all.
So, review your budget, max out retirement accounts, and pay down debt ahead of this major life transition, and remember those other steps you can take to ensure minimum friction and maximum collegiality as you say those long goodbyes and the time on the job grows short.