There's a lot to love about choosing to retire in late spring or early summer - with nicer weather you can get out more to enjoy your new free time, plan a much-deserved getaway or spend quality time with family members off from school or work.
But don't allow that siren call of seemingly limitless lazy summer days let you rush into retirement without nailing down the details of your plans. From securing replacement health coverage to adequately cushioning your monetary savings, it's crucial that you have all your affairs in order before you collect your gold watch. Here are a few things to check off your to-do list ahead of retiring this year:
1. Set your retirement budget
You've likely been saving money all along for your retirement, but are you sure you've set aside enough? According to the Broadbent Institute, only 18 per cent of Canadians who don't have an employee pension plan (which is about half of all retiring workers) have enough funds set aside to adequately last them for at least five years of retirement. Many are only budgeted enough for the first year they're out of work.
Not only do you need to consider your daily expenses, but the Government of Canada recommends you also consider a savings account for unexpected emergencies, vacation funds and the possibility that inflation throws your budget off track.
If you haven't sat down to do the math and ensured that you have a sizable safety net to get you through the next few years, you may want to consider putting in some more working hours before announcing your last day. You'll be in a better position to make more money at a better job if you stick it out with your current career now than if you go fresh back into the workforce in a year or two because of financial constraints.
2. Consider all your retirement income options
Of course, retiring doesn't mean you can only live off of what you've managed to save over the last few years. While having budgeted savings accounts is certainly in your best interest to ensure your golden years are safe and comfortable, you should also research what other funds you could access once you stop working.
If you've been contributing to the Canada Pension Plan, you can expect monthly cheques coming in. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada states that how much you get will depend on the amounts you've been paying in, the age at which you're retiring and how many years you've contributed to the CPP. Research how much you can plan to receive each month to help you better assess your financial needs ahead of time. You may find that you can transfer more of your "daily bills and expenses" budget to your "hobbies and vacation budget." Conversely, you may realize you were banking on more than you may actually receive, which could alter your timeline for when to hang it up.
The FCAC also details how to access the Old Age Security pension, which you're eligible for if you're at least 65 years old. You may also have an additional pension plan through work that can give you additional income after you're done. Whichever options are available to you, it's important to look them up before you set a retirement date so you can better anticipate your monthly income and how it impacts what you've set aside for savings.
3. Look at investing and banking plans
Whether you were an avid investor during your working years or you have limited investing experience, retirement will change how you want to grow your money and where to store it. The Globe and Mail suggests projecting how your investments will grow in the coming years. Depending on your market knowledge and what you can afford to pay, you may consider keeping your financial planner, getting a new planner, using low-cost online tools or crunching the numbers yourself. You also need to consider how risky you're willing to let any of your investments be - perhaps you felt more comfortable taking chances when you had a full time job, and now you want to play it safe. Maybe you'd rather take the big risks now and try to make the most of what you have. Whichever path you choose, you'll want to consider it before you retire and ensure you have the proper tools in place to fulfil your goals.
You may also want to switch up the accounts you have for retirement - perhaps you'll decide you want an annuity or a Registered Retirement Income Fund. Perhaps you want a reverse mortgage, or to downsize to a smaller home and pocket the extra sales from your current house. Having a savings and a pension plan is a great start, but knowing what you're going to do with that money or how to best access it will be crucial for your retirement success, according to the Government of Canada.
4. Get replacement health coverage
Of course, maintaining your health becomes harder and more costly as you age. Your chances of developing an illness increase and your ability to bounce back from any health condition decreases. If you have a health plan covered by your employer, you know you need a replacement plan if you want to stay covered, but are you aware of the timeline you need to follow in order to do so?
To qualify for a replacement plan, you need to enroll within 60 days of losing your employer-sponsored benefits. According to the Globe and Mail, retired Canadians spend an average of more than $5,300 on healthcare each year if they don't have a private coverage plan. Studies show that most don't even realize exactly what they'll be expected to cover themselves after they retire. Between medications, possible home modifications to account for health-related disabilities and long-term care, health costs can add up quickly during retirement years.
It's important not to get caught off-guard if you get sick. After spending so much time carefully budgeting and calculating for your retirement, you don't want it all to go in an instant because of sudden medical bills. Make sure you're covered with a quality health plan that fits your needs before you stop working to ensure that you'll have all the help you may need.