Preparing Your Finances For Retirement

Financial planning for retirement can be an overwhelming task, but with focus and research, seniors can keep their sanity during the process.

Rick Skutch, a Bayside C.P.A., has a number of insights into building a solid and realistic retirement plan.

One of the most important facets of retirement planning, according to Skutch, is a clear picture of retirement goals.

“I would have to ask them, ‘what is it that you want?’” Skutch said.

Someone who wants to travel the States in an RV during their golden years, he noted, will draw up a very different retirement plan that someone who hopes to get an apartment in Manhattan.

Skutch also said that one of the most prevalent mistakes in retirement planning is waiting too long to start.

“The object isn’t so much to be ready to retire, and stop when you’re ready,” Sktuch said. “It’s to be prepared before you get there.”

Skutch advised that it is important for seniors to weigh their current financial status against their vision of retirement, noting that many incorporate relocation or a part-time job into their retirement plan to accomplish that vision.

“It’s hard in this day an age to just say, ‘I’m going to retire,’ and not have any money to fall back on,” Skutch added.

Rather, he said, people should mold their retirement plans around their resources.

“One of the things is to take a look and see what works for you in the country, if there’s a place somewhere else you could retire,” Skutch said, noting that many retirees consider moving to North Carolina and South Carolina, Florida and the Midwest.

The South dominates Forbes’ list of best places to retire in 2014, which includes Auburn, Ala., Abilene and Austin in Tex., Bluffton, Charleston and Clemson in S.C., Brevard, N.C. and Morgantown, W. Va.

In such a case, real estate agents offer important support in the financial planning process. Skutch said that investment brokers and financial advisers can also be valuable resources, but warns against choosing the wrong help.

“I would pick [a financial adviser] who doesn’t sell products,” he advised. “Someone who charges hourly for their fees, so that you know that you’re getting some independent information.”

Overall, Skutch said, it is most important to decide what retirement means for you.

“Do you want to not work? Do you want to work a different kind of job? Do you want to stay in this area?” Sktuch said. “Show me what you have, and from what you have, then what you can start to do is start to build to where you want to be.”