Retirement Planning To Do List – Important Items You Shouldn’t Miss

There is so much to do! So much to consider! So much to learn! And so many pitfalls! When planning your retirement, there is so much to take in! How do you sort it all out? How do you make sure you’ve got this? Well, in my research, I have found that there is a set of items that should not be overlooked. If these items are not considered, it could lead to costly mistakes down the road. So, I put these items in a Retirement Planning To Do List, so you remember to do them and don’t get caught unprepared.  Here’s the list:

Retirement Planning To Do List

1. Get a Good Financial Adviser

Very few of us seniors are financial wizards or have PhDs in Finance. There is the exception to the rule, as usual, for the person who is really interested in finance and has studied every posting on the Internet and is really interested in how the financial industry works, but I am betting that most of you are like me; we know the importance of taking care of our finances, but we just can’t get our minds around the process and the big picture.

This is why we need to hire a good financial adviser. Try to find one that doesn’t take a fee or a percentage of your earnings.

2. Get a Good Tax Professional

Again, unless you have had a tax education, or are super interested in tax law, chances are you are going to know the tip of the ice berg about taxes, and all the tax issues important to retirees. So, find a good one that you trust.

3. Monitor Your Investments

Just like it’s a good idea to see your doctor periodically, it’s a great idea to check in on your investments and your retirement savings. It takes five to ten years for your investments to make significant growth, so you needn’t work with your financial adviser too often. Perhaps once per year to make sure your savings is on track, and to make sure you adjust for any new plans you have made or any life changes that have occurred.

Retirement Planning To Do List

4. Plan for Inflation

Inflation is a fact of life. Prices have always gone up, and will continue to go up. The accepted rate of inflation is 3.22% per year. Think about the fact that your money in today’s dollars will not buy you as much in the future as it will today. Add in inflation per year when you’re deciding how much you will need to live once you retire.

5. Talk With Your Spouse or Significant Other

It is very important to be on the same page as your partner when planning for retirement. You each could be walking around with a totally different picture in your head about what retirement looks like. You may want to stay in your home, while your spouse is expecting to sell everything and travel the world. Think of the problems that will cause when you actually go to retire. Just as you should have periodic checkups of your retirement accounts, you should be checking in with each other to make sure you are on the same page.

6. Focus on Physical Health

Right now, two of the most significant costs you will incur when you retire, is your health care, and long term care. Click here to see my article on health care costs, and click here to read what I’ve written about long term care. You will see that the costs can be pretty daunting. You will want to figure those costs out first, then plan the rest of your retirement around them.

Also, see my article here on resolving health issues before retirement. Make sure you are at your healthiest when the time comes, so you won’t be spending a lot of money right out of the gate.

Retirement Planning To Do List

7. Create a Budget

Click here for my article on creating a senior living budget. Be realistic about it. Make sure you factor every expense into your plan. Don’t forget prescription drugs, vehicle and home maintenance, club memberships, holidays and gifts, property taxes, and charities you wish to donate to. And don’t forget to account for adding to your savings! Make cuts where you can so your money coming in exceeds your money going out. And, as a side note, this is something you should converse with your spouse about, something you need to assure you are collaborating on.

8. Think About Unexpected Expenses

When you retire, it will be a whole different world for you, particularly if you are used to the nine to five grind. You may not need the restaurant lunch budget or to spend a whole lot of money on business clothing. However, you may want to travel or take up hobbies that will have costs involved. Do some research into those trips and those pastimes, and make sure you budget for those expenses. Also, It’s a good idea to have an emergency fund, that can cover unexpected issues.

9. Pay Off Your Dept

Nothing sucks up your retirement savings like a high interest rate and a high balance on a credit card. In many cases, it’s better to pay off a high interest dept than to save the money for retirement. Be sure to calculate which option is more lucrative for your long term goals. A low interest loan might be better left active than using high interest earning dollars to pay it off. Your financial planner can help you make those determinations. If you can pay off your mortgage, then do so, but remember that your mortgage is usually at a really low interest rate. Regardless if you pay off your mortgage, you will be able to use the equity in your home as part of your retirement funds.

Retirement Planning To Do List

10. Work Longer

There are two schools of thought on what age you should retire, mostly concerning Social Security. Waiting longer to retire results in a larger social security monthly payout, but for a shorter amount of time. Retiring at the first possible moment will net you a smaller monthly payment, but for a longer term. Not only that, but with the volatile political climate we live in now, who’s to say if Social Security will be cut or eliminated altogether? My husband and I have decided that one of us will work through to age 72 if we can, and the other will retire earlier, at age 62. But we will see. Our plans might change by the time we are ready.

11. Nail Down Plans For Your Home

Your home is your biggest expense, and perhaps one of your biggest assets. There are so many issues relating to retirement that involve where you will live. Do you want to downsize and get a smaller place with less maintenance? Do you want to stay in your home? Do you want to pay it off? Do you have the money to pay the taxes? Do you want to sell the whole kit-and-kabootle and buy a giant RV, and travel around the country? Do you want to live part-time in the south and part-time in the north? Do you want some combination of any of those choices? Talk with your partner, and figure out what the best plan will be for both of you.

12. Don’t Expect Perfection and Be Ready to Switch Geers

Even if you get a lot of money put by for retirement, and feel you have planned for every contingency, unexpected things will still come along. Your ability to change your plans to fit the situation will go a long way in helping you be prepared for whatever comes next. Don’t be afraid to speak up to your financial adviser if you feel things aren’t going how you expected. And don’t get so stuck in your plan that you can’t be open to unexpected setbacks or even new opportunities. As I have said in my other posts, you should plan for the worst and hope for the best.

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In Conclusion

You can easily see from this article that planning for retirement involves much more than just saving money. It involves years of discussion and adjusting your lifestyle to fit your plan. It’s not a matter of snapping your fingers on your 65th birthday and saying “That’s it, I’m retired!” So start planning today. Figure out what’s important to you and what you can live without. Making a few decisions up front will certainly help you to plan a retirement that you will enjoy and be proud of. And using this list will help you keep on track and plan for those contingencies.

Please put your comments and questions below, and thank you so much for reading!




Rhonda Stetson


  1. This is a very in depth article about preparation and you have so very good pointer in here!

    I could not agree with you more when you said your point about expecting the unexpected. This has hit me so many times already in my life, and I AM ONLY 19. So i could well imagine what it is like for people who are retiring. 

    I believe preparation is a huge part of life, and preparing for when you are 65 is a huge thing, and someone like me, a 19 year old, is already thinking about the retiring age. I find that quite unbelievable. 

    What do you think the most important thing to do is before someone has to retire? 

    • Hi Conor!  Thank you so much for reading and commenting on my article.  First a word of advise from this 55 year old grandma who will retire soon….save for retirement.  Even if it’s just a little bit every month.  Get yourself a financial adviser, and start saving TODAY.  Don’t be in this sinking boat with those of us who have little or no retirement savings.  That is the most important thing you need to do before retirement.

      Anyway, that being said….

      As I plan for my own retirement, I am finding the most important thing to do is to settle where you are going to live.  There are so many factors!  First of all, you must assess the tax situation and make sure you’re not moving into a place that’s going to rob you of your savings through high tax payments.  Next, you have to think about proximity of health care.  Then you have to think about the climate.  Proximity to children and grand children. Proximity to conveniences like shopping for food.  Home maintenance, will you have a big yard to take care of, and who’s going to shovel the snow?  Are you going to travel?  Who’s going to care for the house while you’re gone?  There are so many decisions that hang on that one aspect.  So it’s very important to at least think about all of that before you go into retirement.

      Please read my article on senior housing by clicking here.  

      Anyway, I hope this helps, and best of luck to you, and thank you so much for your comments!  Rhonda

  2. At last: I found a truly comprehensive view of retirement planning! I am grateful that you took time to write something as comprehensive as this.I would like to add one note regarding life insurance: it can be really useful at the retirement stage to maximize the pension distribution. If the retiree decides to draw down the highest allowable monthly amount, he or she would receive this money for his or her life only. Life insurance could actually  be used to replace that money if the retiree tragically predeceases the spouse.


    • Awesome, Jordan!  I had not even thought of life insurance as part of retirement planning. Thank you so much for pointing that out.  I am creating a template for a life insurance article as we speak.  Let that be a lesson for us all, that we need to include life insurance in our plans.  I haven’t had to think about life insurance because we are covered pretty well with my husband’s job benefits.  So, time for me to look into that.  Thank you again Jordan for your suggestion!  And thanks for your complements!  Rhonda  

  3. Thank you so much for this website.  There is so much information in one location and it is so easy to understand.  The topics that you cover are very enlightening.  I think I have been looking for a site with information like this for a long time.  Since I am close to retirement and I know a lot of other folks who are as well, I will  be referring them to this site for info.  I know I will be back!  Thank you again!


    • Hello Sharen, thank you so much for visiting my website.  I am really glad you had a chance to peruse all my articles, and that you find the information useful.  And I am so grateful to you for forwarding this to your soon-to-retire friends.  I really appreciate readers like you!  Thanks again for reading and commenting!  Rhonda

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