Financial planning for retirement is no different than any planning done for other life goals such as buying your first house or paying for your child’s undergraduate education. In all, you and your goals are the focus of the planning process. To achieve the best results when you begin your retirement planning, consider the following advice:
First start planning as soon as you can: Don't delay, especially when it comes to saving and investing. People who save or invest small amounts of money early, and often, tend to do better than those who wait until later in life. Similarly, by developing good overall financial planning habits such as saving, budgeting, investing and regularly reviewing your finances early in life, you will be better prepared to meet life’s financial challenges in retirement.
Next, set measurable goals: Set specific targets of what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve results. For example, instead of saying you want to be "comfortable" when you retire you need to quantify what "comfortable" means so that you'll know when you've reached your goals.
Also, understand the effect of each financial decision: Each financial decision made can affect several other areas of your life. For example, a decision about a child's education may affect when and how you meet your retirement goals. Or an investment decision may have tax consequences that are harmful to your estate plans. Remember that all of your financial decisions are interrelated.
Further, be realistic in your expectations: Financial planning for retirement is a common sense approach to managing your finances to provide more certainty that you will be able meet your needs throughout your lifetime. It cannot change your situation overnight; it is a lifelong process. Remember that events beyond your control such as inflation or changes in the stock market or interest rates will affect your retirement plan’s results.
Which brings me to my last point, re-evaluate your retirement’s financial situation periodically: Financial planning for retirement is a dynamic process. Your expenses and needs may change over the years due to changes in your lifestyle or circumstances, such as new interests that you now have more time for, an inheritance received or health issues that plague you. Revisit and revise your plan as time goes by to reflect these changes so that you stay on track with your long-term goals.
These 5 tenets of financial planning for retirement guide a process that creates a realistic plan of action over which you can measure your progress over time. By doing the above you take a huge step towards securing your retirement.