Plan your retirement by following these four steps

Everybody is told that retirement takes some planning and managing your savings. But what can you do on a routine basis to ensure you’re on track? Do you know how much you should save by age 50?

Savings plans vary based on retirement goals, and a good rule of thumb is saving 10% to 20% of your income for retirement. According to a survey by Bankrate, most Americans are not saving enough. Over 20% of Americans are saving 5% or less of what they make, and only 16% are saving more than 15% of their income.

Here’s a financial planning checklist you can use to stay disciplined and enjoy the rewarding journey to retirement.

Periodically evaluate your retirement goals

Perhaps you planned on traveling around the globe in retirement until you had your first grandchild. Major life events may affect your long-term outlook on retirement. People change, and your retirement plan needs to adjust accordingly. Ensure your retirement savings plan aligns with your life goals.

Adjust your risk tolerance

All investments, even the most conservative, come with different types of risks, and there are a wide range of investment products and account services available to meet your needs. An important part of choosing the right investments is knowing your personal risk tolerance. In other words, how well would you sleep at night knowing your investments may dip 5%, 10% or 20%? Do you see economic downturns as a source of anxiety or an opportunity to buy additional shares at a discounted price? Typically, risk tolerance decreases with age, and over time investment strategies need to be adjusted accordingly.

Regularly check in with your current expenses

This applies to both your current living situation and your anticipated expenses in retirement. A monthly budget check-in will ensure your day-to-day living is not undermining your quality of life in retirement. It may also reveal opportunities to increase your savings and investments.

While life can present the unexpected, you shouldn’t touch your retirement savings when facing current expenses. If you withdraw from retirement savings now, you’ll lose principal and interest, plus you may have to pay penalties on the withdrawal.

Understand what affects your investment growth

Keep in mind how you save is just as important as how much you save. External forces, like inflation, and internal forces, like the type of investments you make, play important roles in your portfolio. Understand how your savings, pension, bonds, 401(k) and other investments may be affected by market forces and ask questions. Routinely meet with a financial advisor who will listen to your goals, answer your questions and make sure your investment mix evolves over time along with your age, personal goals and financial circumstances.

Once your retirement plan is sound, the fun begins. A routine review of your investment portfolio will be just a small part of your rewarding journey to retirement, and it will also help you recognize significant milestones along the way.

Any information provided has been prepared from sources believed to be reliable but is not guaranteed, does not represent all available data necessary for making investment decisions and is for informational purposes only.