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What’s on Your Retirement Checklist?

While taking a weekend trip recently, I realized while unpacking that I had left at home some sundry items I would need. Before overpaying for a razor and hairbrush in the hotel gift shop, I pondered whether I could manage to do without these items for my short stay.

Simply put, retirement is a much longer trip. Failing to plan for this part of your life, without question, can result in both stress and consequences that rise far above the level of traveling inconveniences. Ideally, you have a better chance of success the sooner you begin, but no matter what point you are in your life, it is never too late to begin preparing for retirement.

  1. Estimate how much I will need in order to retire. To determine how you will need to retire, there can be more than one approach. You can first estimate your retirement expenses; how much you think you will spend each year in retirement, including an estimate of taxes you will pay on retirement income. The second is looking at income replacement, or a percentage of that figure.
  2. Determine where that income will come from. There are two types of income in retirement, the guaranteed portion, which includes Social Security and pensions. Determine these amounts first, as well as the specifics. This would include figuring out if a pension had cost of living adjustments upward, as many do not. The second part is the investment assets you are able to accumulate during your working years, based on your current savings rate.
  3. Am I saving enough now? For this part you are determining the gap between what you need, and what you’ve projected to be available to you. Your salary will determine the guaranteed portions of your income, the remainder will be drawn from your investments. It may require an increase in savings.
  4. Evaluate investments. If the last market downturn sent you to the safest investments available, you may be subject to a different type of risk, inadequate growth of your investment savings. It is important to determine an expected return from your portfolio, along with the risks. Inflation is an important consideration here as well, and will have a substantial effect on the spending power of today’s dollars.
  5. How do I get started? A Financial Planner from Chemung Canal can help guide you through these steps rather easily, with both their experience as well as the available planning software, and there are also a multitude of calculators available on the internet for each of the initial tasks listed above. I do realize from discussions and my work with clients that it still can seem to be a daunting task.

But I will share with you that my clients, having gone through this exercise, express a sense of relief when we’ve completed the first run through. Even in cases where much work was still required, knowing what needs to be done provides them with determination to do what they need to do, and relieves the stress of the unknown.

Contributed by Michael Lares, CFP®. Mike has been part of the Trust & Estate Administration team at Chemung Canal Trust Company since 2004 as a Vice President & Financial Planner. His work includes portfolio management, technical analysis, and extensive work with not-for-profits and retirement plans. He is a CFP® (Certified Financial Planner ™) professional currently providing financial planning services to Wealth Management clients and institutions, utilizing his analytical skills and broad financial experience.

For additional guidance, please contact Marci Cartwright at 607-737-3754 or