Some of the most common questions we field are related to retirement. Clients often wonder if they're saving enough, if they've made the right investments, and how, exactly, they should take disbursements to minimize taxes and make those savings last.
It's no surprise that so many people worry about retirement: A 2014 study indicates that only 18 percent of workers are "very confident" that they've saved enough to ensure a comfortable retirement. But with some careful financial strategies, it's possible. In fact, you may need less than you think.
These 7 strategic wealth planning tips can reduce your stress and help you plan for a comfortable retirement.
1. Evaluate Your Current Comprehensive Financial Plan
First, take a look at your assets. The average pre-retiree has about $250,000 in a retirement plan. Consider your other investments and assets such as a pension.
Now, consider your debt. Are you close to paying off your mortgage? Do you really need to take out a large loan to purchase a new car? Avoid taking on any more debt and focus on paying down what you have.
2. Rethink Your Home Size: Bigger isn't Always Better
If your kids have moved out but you're still hanging on to that big house in the suburbs, now may be the time to downsize. Yes, the housing market is still shaky, but even if you can't sell your current (huge) home for as much as you'd like, you can purchase a smaller home in a less-expensive area for less. You'll save on taxes and maintenance.
3. Subsidizing Your Kid's Lifestyle: Not a Sound Wealth Management Solution
Of course, you love your kids -- and that can make it hard to say "no" to them. But one thing is for sure: Subsidizing your adult children's lifestyle will definitely put a damper on your ability to prepare for your own retirement. If you do let a child move back in, make them pay rent and pay their share of costs.
4. Consider Cost-Sharing Your Living Arrangements
If your grown children are having a difficult time making it on their own in a tough economy, you could consider moving in with them and sharing costs. Splitting the rent is generally cheaper than maintaining a mortgage and a home. Similarly, if you're single, consider getting a roommate. Sharing with a friend or sibling can really cut costs and enable you to save for the future.
5. Stretch Your Retirement Funds by Going Global
Many retirees are picking up and moving -- international, that is. Several Central and South American countries are dotted with retirement communities largely populated by ex-pats, like Mexico, Costa Rica and Ecuador. Others retrace their ancestors' migration paths and return to European home lands, such as Italy or Ireland. Still others head for tropical climes, such as Thailand or Malaysia. Either way, moving to a safe country with a low cost of living can make your retirement money stretch much further.
6. Financial Strategies: Entertainment on the Cheap
Your idea of entertainment may consist of on-Broadway shows and luxury ocean cruises, but these (expensive) options aren't the only choice. Research inexpensive entertainment options in your hometown, from free summer concerts in the park to free admission days at your local museum. Great resources for low-cost fun include libraries, churches, senior centers and veterans' associations.
7. Embrace the Senior Citizen Discount
You may not feel like a senior citizen at heart, but you might as well take advantage of the discounts your birth date provides! Organizations like AARP provide discounts and can supplement your medical insurance costs, while your local government may offer a number of programs for seniors, such as free transportation, low-cost food and even price breaks on medical services. It doesn't hurt to ask -- and it can save you money to put toward your retirement nest egg.