Nearing RetirementWith just five years left before you retire, you need to begin solidifying your plans. Make sure you're still on track, but also nail down where you'll live (the largest expense in retirement) and how you'll meet your health care needs (the second biggest).

What to do


1. See if you need a course correction. A lot can happen between years 10 and five that could necessitate a change in plans -- including an illness, a job loss, or an extended bear market. Or maybe you just haven't managed to accrue the nine-times-salary savings that would be ideal at this point.

You're not out of luck: You may be able to retire on less than you'd hoped or get to your goal by working longer.

A one-time review with a financial planner who charges by the hour (find one at napfa.org) can be worth the $1,000 or so investment to help you figure out where you stand.

At a minimum, plug your info into T. Rowe Price's Retirement Income Calculator to see your chances of retiring with your desired income.

2. Examine health care costs. Better include an estimate for health insurance and out-of-pocket care costs in your income-needs projections.

If you'll retire before Medicare kicks in at 65, you could have a big expense ahead. For a 62-year-old couple with one spouse in ill health, premiums run up to $2,300 a month on the individual market, according to eHealthInsurance.com.

Exchanges created under the 2010 reforms may reduce costs, but you'll still pay more than you do now. Have an independent agent (find one at nahu.org) price plans for you.

You may also have the option to buy into your work plan for 18 months through COBRA; ask HR what that will cost. "COBRA may be the better option," says Cheryl Fish-Parcham, a policy expert at Families USA. It's not priced by age and has no exclusions.

Keep in mind, Medicare isn't a free ride either: Premiums and out-of-pocket costs average $4,600 a year, AARP reports. Approximate your outlay at Medicare.gov.


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3. Plan for LTC -- ASAP. With a year in a nursing home topping $78,000, "long-term-care costs can drain your savings faster than a bear market," says wealth planner Jeff Townsend.

Insurance can offset costs, but premiums are as much as $4,000 a year -- and rising -- for a couple in their early sixties.

So buy only if your assets total $250,000 to $1.5 million, says San Diego financial planner Gil Armour. Below that, you're likely to exhaust your money fast enough to qualify for Medicaid; above it, you can pay your own way.

If you are going to buy, do so now because the older you are, the higher the premiums. Go with an insurer that does a lot of its business in LTC and gets an A or a B+ credit rating.

4. Make plans to get out of the house. Now that your kids are grown and your work life is winding down, do you really need that big home in the good school district?

A Brookings Institution paper found that housing near a high-scoring public school costs an average of 2.4 times more than housing near a low-scoring one. So simply moving to a town nearby could slash your costs and free up cash for your nest egg.

Downsize, and you'll bank even more.

Have another locale in mind? Find out what it will cost to live there, down to all the taxes, says Chicago planner Cicily Maton: "You might notice real estate taxes are lower, but that could be offset by higher income or sales taxes."

5. Practice your retirement job. Begin laying the foundation for any work you'll do in retirement. Ease the transition by getting credentials you need now or using relevant volunteer work to reorient your résumé.

Want to consult? Get launched before you lose contacts in the field or your experience starts to look stale, says Art Koff of RetiredBrains.com. Start picking up assignments on the side so that you'll have steady clients at the ready when you're about to leave your job.

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21 Comments

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ilm9p

The only problem here is downsizing. You downsize and move into a smaller, cheaper house and before you know it you'll be living amongst a bunch of free loading Section 8 welfare scum. Then after you've been robbed several times by these dirty animals, and after they've destroyed the neighborhood forcing you to abandon your home, then where'll you be? Better to stay where you are, take self defense and concealed carry classes and arm yourself against this vermin.

November 05 2012 at 7:50 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jhrooney

From many of the comments here, I miss the humor intended or so I think. If you can't afford to retire, you spent it as you made it, so, you work until you die. We all had choices and some made the spend it as soon as you got it choice.
Some saved, invested, missed things along the way, and can now retire.

November 02 2012 at 10:58 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jhrooney's comment
wfreeberg

Very Sound Advice. We all made life decisions over the past 40+ years; some good and some bad. Live with it Some of us will work and some retire; the decision and preparation was made years ago.

November 03 2012 at 5:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cslinz62

Some of us will never be able to retire period. I will have to work til I draw my last breath.

November 02 2012 at 7:42 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
dante's paradiso

There's always ther Phillipines or Thailand

November 02 2012 at 6:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
barney

one , retire at 60 , two live like a dog for two years and draw SS at 62 , three sell house get a cheap small apartment , four get as much health care insurance as you can for $500 / month , make sure your advanced directive is a strict NO CODE and you needn't worry about long term care.

November 02 2012 at 5:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
donr1

Now is the time to invest in real estate. Rents are going up and interest rates are at an all time low. As economy improves, values must rise.

November 02 2012 at 11:46 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to donr1's comment
barney

be my guest

November 02 2012 at 5:41 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
vlady1000

Bingo. I have been owning rental RE a long time and have bought a lot more the last 12 months, plus refied others too, at today super low loan rates and increased rent rates, it has never been so good. 80% of my rentals never dropped a dime in value thru this mess because the rents never dropped. In fact, most values went up slightly and I was able to take cash out on the refi's. In the last 6 months I have already seen more buyers than sellers(you have to get them before they get on the market) and prices starting to go up pretty strong in the area I buy. But remember RE is a local commodity, ne general rules aqpplies to all.

November 02 2012 at 7:43 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
digitalmag

Just a comment on becoming a Canadian:

They don't want you.

Immigration to Canada is based on a point system. If you have $400,000 to give to the Canadian government interest free for four years, they might let you in. If you are married to a Canadian you might be able to immigrate with your spouse, but it does cost a bit over $1000 to apply.

If you were born in the US and you plan to retire in Canada you will pretty much have to do it as a visitor with no government benefits or protections. The US / Canada border is one of the hardest borders to cross as a resident, either way.

Maybe you should be working harder trying to make America more like Canada? It's a tough call because Canadians think differently than Americans and they have a much greater faith in government. They don't mind paying taxes either, provided they get the services.

November 02 2012 at 11:27 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to digitalmag's comment
cozypaws

The only problem is we will never get the services.

November 02 2012 at 1:53 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
barney

two rules..........10k upfront to Canada and all retirement income must be taken immediately with US taxes paid and the balance invested with Canadian entities

November 02 2012 at 5:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
boowah

Within 5 years of retirement? Five things to do right now! !. Renounce your U.S. citizenship and become a Canadian citizen. 2. Same 3. Same 4.Same and 5.Same!

November 02 2012 at 11:09 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
michael.griggs

your retirement job? this article is not written for the average person. it was written for the average ceo, cfo, senior vp. what friggen retirement job? wally world.

November 02 2012 at 10:34 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to michael.griggs's comment
Pollyanna

No. Wally world took away my retirement job. They no longer have greeters. At least that's what I read. They are eliminating all greeters. Oh well.

November 02 2012 at 5:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mike edwards

people must take a stand take money out of bank till banks appreciate our accounts again these rates are unexceptable we must let them know take a stand

November 02 2012 at 9:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mike edwards's comment
apexabstract

Mortgage rates must go up then too to pay for your savings account increases.

November 03 2012 at 4:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply