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Your All-In-One Retirement Planning Guide

Retirement planning can be both exciting and overwhelming. Though you may be looking forward to saying goodbye to your job, you might also be worried about how to plan for retirement. 

This is especially true given the challenges of retirement today. Given that we’re living longer, seniors need to plan for more years of retirement, specifically hefty housing and healthcare costs. Yet, retirement planning doesn’t have to be a source of frustration. To help you successfully navigate your retirement – and enjoy every moment of it – we’ve put together this ultimate retirement planning guide for seniors. 

Steps for comprehensive retirement planning 

1. Define your retirement vision

To get started with retirement planning, it’s vital to think about your vision for these years. Think about the essentials first:

  • When and where do you want to retire?
  • What’s your ideal retirement lifestyle? 
  • How much will you need to fund this lifestyle? Do you have incomes, investments and/or assets to help cover it?
  • Will you take part-time work during retirement?
  • What are your care needs?
  • Do you have health, life and/or long-term care insurance?

All these issues should be discussed with your spouse or partner so that you’re both on the same page. Once you have a clear vision for your retirement, you can then start planning the financials and logistics to make it happen. 

2. Estimate your expenses, especially for healthcare

A retirement budget will be your roadmap for making financial decisions as you age. There are many different ways to estimate your expenses, including the 70% retirement rule. This rule says that you need 70% of your pre-retirement income to live comfortably during retirement. However, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. Only you know how much you really need to cover your expenses and enjoy your retirement.

As part of your expenses, it’s important to leave room for unexpected costs, especially regarding healthcare and housing. According to experts, the average couple retiring at 65 will pay $295,000 total in out-of-pocket health care expenses. It’s essential to have a plan to cover your health needs. Ideally, you would have health, life and long-term care insurance. 

You should also take stock of how much your retirement lifestyle will cost you. Perhaps you’re planning on downsizing and reducing expenses. Perhaps you’d like to travel around the world. Whatever your retirement vision is, figure out how much it’s going to cost you, in addition to your healthcare and housing needs.

3. Create a retirement budget

If your retirement vision is to buy an RV and travel around the U.S., you’ll have a different budget than if you’re planning to move close to grandchildren. Your retirement budget depends greatly on your needs and goals for these years. To set your priorities and calculate a realistic budget, here are some key items:

  • Housing: Rent or mortgage and property taxes
  • Health insurance: Health, life and long-term care insurance, including vision and dental insurance
  • Other insurance: Home and auto insurance
  • Home expenses: Utilities, cable, phone, and internet service
  • Food and transport: Groceries, dining out, drinks, transportation, travel
  • Hobbies and entertainment

These categories will give you an idea for what to plan for. Try figuring out how much per month you’ll need to cover these items, as well as any not listed here. 

Besides these expenses, you’ll also need to take a close look at others you may have, including debt and taxes. Ideally, you should try to reach retirement without outstanding debt, but if not, it’s important to budget for it. 

At the same time, take a look at your incomes, investments and assets to see what you have available. It’s common, for example, to sell a home to help fund a retirement budget. 

4. Get financial help

While retirement planning is essential for reaching this milestone with stability, sometimes life gets in the way. Not all seniors have the opportunity to retire with enough resources to meet their living costs. If this is your situation, remember that there are a variety of programs designed to meet this gap. Here are a few key financial assistance programs:

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs
  • Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)
  • Veteran benefits, including VA pension, Aid and Attendance, and more

Be sure to check out these programs that are specifically designed for low-income seniors who need extra help to get health coverage and care, financial assistance, housing vouchers, and assisted living aid. Eligibility requirements differ according to the program, so check the links above to find out if you qualify for them.  

Finally, check out our full list of assistance programs for seniors, including for finances, housing, food and more.

5. Research retirement housing options and locations

In addition to healthcare, housing is another important aspect of retirement that can be costly. As you pursue your vision for retirement, keep in mind where you want to live and how you’ll pay for housing. There are so many options, from aging in place in your own home to joining a senior living community. Some top options for retirement housing include:

  • Aging in place
  • Senior living communities, including independent living, assisted living and memory care
  • Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs)
  • Adult foster care
  • Nursing homes
  • Living with family or friends

In particular, you’ll want to research not just the type of retirement housing you’re interested in, but also the location itself. Your retirement budget may benefit from downsizing to a smaller home or apartment, as well as moving to a low-cost city or even another country.

6. Plan ahead to meet milestones in your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond

Retirement planning hardly starts at age 65. This process should be well underway in your younger years, so that you can build up enough resources for your retirement. 

The earlier you start, the better. Try to create a plan for saving and investment milestones in your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond so that you can reach retirement with the ideal financial scenario. Early saving and investment in a retirement account can truly pay off, as every year your investments will grow through interest. 

Starting early also gives you some leeway if you face any financial challenges over the years. Building early provides that flexibility to save more or less later on. This can be beneficial in order to protect yourself against any major setbacks in your retirement plan. 

7. Medicare planning

Many of the 62 million Americans now on Medicare find the program complex and complicated. Indeed, it can be considering the myriad of plan options available. Plus, the fact that many plans can change yearly.

With that in mind, an excellent resource for information is the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance (AAMSI). The national organization makes available current and relevant Medicare insurance data pertaining to Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement and prescription drug plans.

Included are annual price indexes reporting the lowest and highest premium costs for Medigap plans across 10 large U.S. cities. Also available are low and high costs for Medicare prescription drug plans. The Association makes available access to an online directory to find a local Medicare insurance agent. There is no cost to access the listing and no personal data need be entered. Individuals see the listing that shows information regarding agents listed by Zip Code including their phone number and the ability to privately email them.

8. Long-Term Care Insurance planning

One of the most complicated insurance products available is long-term care insurance. While many seniors understand the risk of needing long-term care, few understand how insurance works, ways to save and what to look for in terms of coverage.

Since 1998, the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance has been the leading national advocate educating consumers about the importance of this protection. 

The organization’s website maintains the most information and long-term care insurance statistics regarding policies, buyers and claimants. In addition, the organization regularly helps consumers seeking long-term care insurance costs by connecting them with knowledgeable specialists.

Kick off your retirement planning today

Your retirement is your party, after all. As you plan for retirement, keep in mind these top considerations so you can start defining your vision, understanding your finances and planning for the next chapter of your life. 

At MyCaringPlan, you can get even more resources for seniors to help plan your retirement and take control of your golden years.


  1. Top 10 Ways to Prepare for Retirement, U.S. Department of Labor, www.dol.gov

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