Nearing Your Retirement Date? Take Stock Now

If you’re getting to that point in your career where you begin to see retirement on the horizon, you need to take a moment and gauge whether you’ve got the right pieces in place to succeed in your post-career life.

While many consider dentistry 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? Will your practice (or you share of the practice) be worth as much as you’ve planned? And, on a related note, will you have enough money set aside to make your retirement enjoyable? The first three questions are difficult to answer, and the fourth 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 2016. (See the updated IRS limits for 2016; in short, the maximum contributions did not change from 2015.) If you are 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. Though you may want to use your accumulated dental skills, you may also want to do something completely different. 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. For our sister site, Physician’s Money Digest, I recently wrote about finding your retirement 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.