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4 Home-Stretch Strategies If You're Nearing Retirement


If you're nearing retirement, chances are you've begun to think long and hard about what you want to do in your post-employment years. If you're behind in your savings, consider these four strategies.

Retirees at ocean

While many healthcare professionals consider medicine a calling rather than a career, there is a certain anticipation of the retirement years that builds as you get closer to age 50 and beyond. The allure of free time, travel, and pursuing hobbies is undeniable. But the years leading up to retirement can be stressful as well.

Will you find the same sense of fulfillment when you’re no longer caring for patients? Will you struggle to keep yourself occupied without the daily purpose of work? And, perhaps most importantly, will you have enough money saved to make your retirement enjoyable? The first two questions are difficult to answer, and the third is no bargain either. But there are steps you can take as you near that projected date that can help you make sure you’re ready.

Play catch-up. If you got started on your retirement savings late, and now you’re 50 or older, you can contribute as much as $24,000 a year to workplace retirement plans such as a 401(k) or 403(b) in 2015. If you’re in position to max out your contributions, that’s a good chunk of change to add to your nest egg.

Aim for a higher return. Yes, your investments should gradually shift from more aggressive to more conservative as you get closer to retirement. But that doesn’t mean you have to become ultra-conservative, especially if you’re looking to build extra income. You may want to think about keeping some of your investments invested for growth.

Consider a part-time job. Though it takes a little bit of the shine off the idea of being unencumbered, a part-time job is a necessity for many retirees, and a way to stay sane for many others. Having a flexible role that you can go in and out of will still allow for travel and time for hobbies, while helping pay for some of those hobbies and helping you keep some of your retirement savings still earning rather than being spent.

Find the floor. Before you retire, make sure you know the absolute bottom of the range of income you’ll need to cover basic expenses. Then, measure this against your projected income, including all retirement plans, other investments, and Social Security. Does the math work? If it doesn’t, while you’re still earning is the time to talk to a financial advisor about the strategies available to you.

One you’ve made the leap, adjustments won’t be as easy, and your earning window will have closed. Look now so you can act now.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice