top of page

Retirement Planning Tips: Setting Goals, Estimating Expenses, Optimizing Taxes & more...

Updated: Mar 13

Retirement planning tips - Setting goals, estimating expenses, optimizing taxes and more

Retirement. It's a phase of life many of us eagerly anticipate—a time to relax, pursue hobbies, travel the world, or simply spend quality time with loved ones. However, achieving a fulfilling retirement requires careful planning and preparation. With so many factors to consider, retirement planning can seem daunting. But fear not! In this guide, we'll break down the process into manageable steps and present some useful tips that could help you:

  1. Set clear retirement goals tailored to your unique vision.

  2. Estimate future expenses, including healthcare and long-term care costs.

  3. Assess income sources and choose suitable investment vehicles for a stable retirement income.

  4. Optimize tax strategies to minimize liabilities and maximize after-tax income.

  5. Regularly review and adjust your retirement plan to adapt to changing circumstances.

Join us as we demystify retirement planning and empower you to take control of your financial future!

1. Setting Retirement Goals

Cute girl thinking about retirement planning

The first step in retirement planning is setting clear goals. Take some time to envision your ideal retirement lifestyle. Do you dream of traveling extensively, volunteering for causes you're passionate about while also dedicating time and resources to giving back through philanthropy or acts of generosity, perhaps helping your children navigate life’s complexities without losing their mind? By visualizing your retirement goals, you can better understand your financial needs and priorities.


Observe Your Parents or Their Friends: 

Take a closer look at the lifestyle of your parents or their friends who are already in retirement. Their experiences can provide valuable insights into the realities of retirement living and help you envision your own retirement goals. Do they spend their days traveling, pursuing hobbies, or engaging in community activities? Important: Pay attention to what brings them joy and fulfillment in retirement.

Observe Elderly Couples from Your Community or Church:

Another great way to gain perspective on retirement living is by observing the lifestyle of elderly couples from your church or community. Engage in conversations with them about their retirement experiences, challenges they've faced, and activities they enjoy. You may discover new ideas and possibilities for your own retirement goals by learning from their wisdom and experiences.

Remember, setting retirement goals is a personal process, and there's no one-size-fits-all approach. Take the time to reflect on what truly matters to you and your loved ones, and use these observations and insights to shape your retirement vision.

2. Estimating Retirement Expenses

Cute girl estimating retirement expenses

Next, it's essential to estimate your future retirement expenses. Consider both essential living expenses—such as housing, utilities, food, and healthcare—and discretionary spending on activities and hobbies. Don't forget to account for potential long-term care expenses as well. While estimating expenses, remember to factor in inflation to ensure your savings will last throughout retirement.


Expect Healthcare Costs: 

Healthcare expenses can be a significant portion of your retirement budget. Expect to spend about $6,000 per person in today's dollars (2024) annually on healthcare. This includes premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Be sure to budget accordingly to cover these essential costs.

Research Long-Term Care Costs: 

Research the average cost of assisted living facilities and nursing homes in your state. This can be as simple as internet search or giving a call to a few local facilities and asking them directly. Long-term care expenses can vary widely depending on location and level of care needed. Understanding these costs will help you plan for potential future healthcare needs and avoid financial surprises down the road.

Account for Healthcare Inflation:

Healthcare costs tend to rise faster than general inflation rates. To be conservative in your estimations, use a healthcare inflation rate of around 4-5%. This ensures that you're accounting for the potential increase in healthcare expenses over time and can adjust your retirement plan accordingly. It’s better to have more savings than you need verses other way around.

 By considering these factors and incorporating them into your retirement expense estimates, you can better prepare for the financial realities of retirement and ensure that your savings will cover your needs throughout your golden years.


3. Assessing Retirement Income Sources and Choosing Suitable Investment Vehicles

Picture with charts that suppose to represent various sources of income

Once you have a sense of your retirement expenses, it's time to evaluate your potential sources of retirement income and select suitable investment vehicles to fund your retirement lifestyle. Common income sources include Social Security, employer-sponsored retirement plans (like 401(k)s or 403(b)s), individual retirement accounts (IRAs), taxable brokerage accounts, rental income, annuities, and some forms of life insurance. Assess the adequacy of your current retirement savings and consider strategies to maximize your retirement benefits.


Be Conservative with Social Security: 

While Social Security is an essential source of income for many retirees, it's wise to be conservative and not solely rely on it, especially if you are 20 years or more from retirement. By not counting on this source, you'll improve your odds of navigating retirement without running out of money. Instead, focus on building a diverse portfolio of income sources and investments that will provide stability and security in your retirement years.

Optimize Employer-Sponsored Plans but Prioritize Individual Retirement Accounts: 

When it comes to employer-sponsored plans, never leave employer’s match on the table, as this can significantly boost your retirement savings. However, once you've maximized the employer match, if possible, prioritize saving through individual retirement accounts (IRAs) for additional flexibility.

Avoid Solely Relying on Target Date Funds: 

While selecting an investment option in your work plan be cautious not to fall into the trap of relying solely on target date funds. While they can be a good option for those completely unfamiliar with financial markets, if you compare them to other investments with similar risk characteristics more often than not results could be disappointing. Instead, consider all other available options in your plan and run those funds through tools like to see how the funds performed historically and what levels of volatility they’ve exhibited. Make sure funds you are testing have data that goes back prior to Financial Crisis of 2008 and even better back before the crash. Pay attention to the standard deviation number as it tells you how big of a move you can expect in a security in the following year, simply multiply it by two to get an approximate range of possible move down or up. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need more clarification on this tip.

Maintain a Healthy Balance of Tax-Free and Tax-Deferred Assets: 

Given the uncertainties of the future, it's essential to maintain a healthy balance between Traditional and Roth assets in your retirement accounts. Traditional accounts offer tax-deferred growth, while Roth accounts provide tax-free withdrawals in retirement. By diversifying between the two, you can mitigate tax risks and optimize your tax and income strategy in retirement. Additionally, if your company’s health insurance allows for an HSA account, when possible, make sure you use it as a saving vehicle for retirement healthcare needs instead of a conduit for your current medical expenses.

Diversify Your Investment Portfolio Beyond Traditional Bonds and Stocks:

A diversified portfolio can help manage risk, optimize returns over time and establish various sources of income in retirement. Consider exploring options such as real estate investments, annuities, and certain types of life insurance policies that offer cash value accumulation, all of this can potentially serve as a source of income in retirement.


4. Optimizing Tax Strategies

Picture representing a person optimizing tax strategies

When it comes to retirement planning, optimizing tax strategies can significantly impact your long-term financial success. Here are some clever actionable tips to help you minimize tax liabilities and maximize after-tax income in retirement:


Use HSA as a Saving Vehicle: 

Like it was mentioned earlier you should consider using HSA account for your retirement savings instead of using it as a conduit for your current medical expenses. HSAs allow you to save in a pretax fashion, they can be invested and grow in a tax-deferred way and then be used tax free for qualified medical expenses of a very wide range. Additionally, once you turn 65 you can use HSA assets for other non-qualified reasons without any penalties, pretty much like your other tax-deferred retirement accounts.

Tax-Loss Harvesting Across Taxable Accounts:

Take advantage of tax-loss harvesting to offset capital gains and reduce tax liabilities. This strategy involves selling investments that have experienced a loss to offset gains in other investments, thereby reducing your overall tax bill. Be mindful of wash-sale rules and consider reinvesting the proceeds in similar, but not identical, investments to maintain your desired asset allocation.

Be Generous: 

In addition to non-material rewards of generosity, giving can also provide some tax advantages. Remember how we spoke about the importance of taking a balanced approach to retirement savings via tax-deferred and tax-free accounts? Well, once you are approaching retirement having both types of assets among other advantages can also facilitate usage of Qualified Charitable Distributions to optimize your Required Minimum Distributions as well as your retirement income and taxes. Another strategy you can consider is donating appreciated taxable assets, such as stocks or mutual funds, to charity instead of cash. By donating appreciated assets directly to a qualified charity, you can avoid capital gains taxes on the appreciation while still receiving a charitable deduction for the full fair market value of the assets.


5. Reviewing and Adjusting Your Retirement Plan

Retirement planning is not a one-and-done endeavor - it requires ongoing review and adjustment. Regularly reassess your retirement goals, investment portfolio, and financial situation to ensure your plan remains on track. Life changes, market fluctuations, and evolving tax laws may necessitate updates to your retirement strategy. By staying proactive and adaptable, you can navigate changes with confidence and maintain a secure financial future.

In conclusion, while this blog post provides a brief overview of the essential elements, there is so much more to explore and discuss in the realm of retirement planning. From social security income planning to Medicare and estate planning, the intricacies of retirement planning are vast and diverse. While we've touched on some key concepts and actionable tips, the depth and complexity of this topic could fill volumes.


Ultimately, retirement planning is a deeply personal journey, and the strategies and

solutions that work best for one individual may not necessarily apply to another. It's essential to seek personalized guidance from financial professionals and carefully evaluate your unique circumstances and goals. That is why we invite you to take advantage of our complimentary consultation by filling out the Get In Touch form below. Remember, it's never too early—or too late—to start planning for retirement. So why wait?



Commenting has been turned off.

Ready to learn more?


Get in touch

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page