Many people leave the workforce and enter retirement only to wind up unhappy after the fact. And unfortunately, much of that boils down to financial stress. If you want to increase your chances of being able to enjoy your golden years, here are a few important moves to make.
1. House your retirement savings in a Roth account
Retirees are often shocked to learn that much of their income is subject to taxes. But you can avoid the stress of having the IRS take a chunk of your money if you save for retirement in a Roth 401(k) or IRA. In fact, if you opt for the latter account, you'll not only avoid taxes on your withdrawals during retirement, but also, you'll get out of taking required minimum distributions for as long as you'd like. Now there are income limits that apply to Roth IRAs, so you may not be able to fund one of these accounts directly if you earn too much. But if that's the case, you can always open a traditional IRA and then convert it to a Roth afterward.
2. Claim Social Security at the right time
The money Social Security pays you could end up not just covering your essential bills, but buying you entertainment during your senior years. That's why it's important to sign up for those benefits at the right time. If you wait until full retirement age to file (which is either 66, 67, or somewhere in between, depending on your year of birth), you'll get the exact monthly benefit you're entitled to based on your personal wage history. But you can also opt to file sooner (starting at age 62) for a reduced benefit, or delay your filing up until age 70 for an increased benefit.
When making your decision, think about what you'll use those benefits for, and if they're mostly earmarked for leisure and travel, think about how they'll serve you the best. Will you appreciate the option to explore the world when you're a bit younger and have more energy, or will a higher monthly payout allow you to do more over time? Landing on the right filing age could make your retirement more fulfilling on a whole.
3. Choose the right Medicare coverage
When it comes to Medicare, you have choices -- you can stick to original Medicare (Parts A and B, plus a Part D drug plan), or you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. The latter option could actually be more beneficial than you'd think. Not only do many Advantage plans cover services that original Medicare won't, like dental care, but they also offer lifestyle benefits, like gym and wellness perks that keep you healthy and also, busy. It pays to see which Advantage plans are available in your area when your next opportunity to switch your coverage arises.
You deserve to enjoy retirement to the fullest -- whatever that happens to mean for you. These moves will put you on the road to doing just that.