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Have you gotten your retirement checkup yet?

Tips to keep your financial plan on track

Created date

February 26th, 2013

No matter where you are in your retirement timeline, you should give your finances an annual checkup. People are living longer, which means their financial plans are more likely to run out before they do. But the sooner you make adjustments like selling your house or standardizing your monthly expenses the better.

Predictable monthly costs

Review your budget. This helps ensure you can meet your basic monthly expenses while managing any investments. In retirement, a monthly budget should be strictly followed and reviewed at least quarterly, says Samantha Long, certified financial planner with Ameriprise Financial. Additionally, she says, The costs of home ownership must be accounted for in retirement. Typically it is suggested to have a cash reserve of three to six months of expenses to account for emergencies that occur. You may have set up a budget before or during retirement, but homeowners are more likely to get hit with unpredictable big bills, says Long, than people who live at a retirement community like Seabrook, in Tinton Falls, N.J. If expenses of home ownership, for example, a new hot water heater or air conditioner or even larger expenses of a new roof, if these are not prepared for, they can severely impact your retirement goals, Long says. Susan Coulson, sales counselor at the Erickson Living community, assists people who are deciding to sell their house and move to one of Seabrook s apartment homes. People move here for a variety of reasons, but a common thread among most incoming residents is that they re looking for predictable monthly costs. Our monthly service package includes all your basic needs and then some use of all amenities, round-the-clock home maintenance, all utilities except telephone and Internet, and a meal plan. People who live at Seabrook write just one monthly check for their apartment home, utilities, maintenance, meal plan, and fitness center. Plus, Seabrook has an indoor swimming pool, classrooms, on-campus TV studio, and more than 120 clubs and activities. And it s all included in the monthly service package, Coulson says. Our predictable monthly costs give such peace of mind to our residents, she says. They don t have to worry about which bills have been paid and which need to be paid. It s so convenient and truly makes budgeting a breeze.

Lower utilities and other expenses

If, when you review your budget, you see you need to cut costs, you may want to consider downsizing to a smaller home. Apartment home dwellers typically see significantly lower utilities and home and yard maintenance costs than those who live in a house. Older houses, especially, are more likely to have windows that lose heat and other inefficiencies. Seabrook has several apartment styles and sizes, so while utility costs vary, residents can typically expect a decrease in utility costs living at Seabrook, Coulson says. In the same vein, yard maintenance at Seabrook is nearly nonexistent, though residents have the option to maintain a community garden space or grow plants on their patio or balcony. Many people find that while they may be hesitant at first to sell their house, they end up wishing they had done it sooner, Coulson says. Long recommends reviewing your retirement plan sooner rather than later. Remember, the longer you wait, the more limited your options for change, she says.

What to review ' during your ' retirement checkup

A financial plan should be done annually by a financial professional whom you trust, says Samantha Long, certified financial planner with Ameriprise Financial. She suggests reviewing the following to ensure a healthy retirement plan: Your current financial position Cash reserves Life insurance Long-term care Retirement Estate planning