If you're finally at the point where you can start counting down the years (or months) until retirement, congratulations -- you deserve to leave the workforce behind and embark on a new, exciting stage of life.
As you gear up for that milestone, be sure to make the following moves.
1. Boost your savings rate in your IRA or 401(k)
Though Social Security may provide a substantial chunk of income for you during your later years, you'll still need savings of your own to subsidize those benefits. That's why it pays to sneak a little extra money into your IRA or 401(k) plan while you can. If you're over 50, you can contribute up to $7,000 to an IRA this year, or up to $26,000 to a 401(k).
2. Max out your HSA
Healthcare could end up being your most significant expense in retirement. If you're eligible to participate in an HSA this year, aim to max it out. If you're funding an HSA on your own behalf, you can contribute up to $3,600 this year. You get a $1,000 catch-up as long as you're at least 55. If you're saving in an HSA on behalf of a family, your contribution for the year maxes out at $7,200, plus that $1,000 catch-up, assuming you're old enough to qualify for it.
3. Check up on your asset allocation
Your IRA and 401(k) should continue to generate growth for you in retirement without exposing you to too much risk. Before you retire, take a look at how your investments are allocated and make sure they're appropriate given your age and upcoming plans. If you're on the cusp of leaving the workforce, you may want to limit yourself to having 60% of your portfolio in stocks, especially if you intend to immediately start withdrawing from your retirement plan once your paycheck disappears.
4. Figure out where it makes sense to live
The state you retire to will have a huge impact on your finances. Narrow down your choices before you leave the workforce for good. Some states tax Social Security benefits, while others tax income like retirement plan withdrawals. Then there's the cost of living to consider. If you're not where you'd like to be savings-wise, you may want to look at moving someplace where housing and goods and services are cheaper.
Put in the effort now
In the years or months leading up to your retirement, you have a key opportunity to set yourself up for a more secure future. You might think squeezing an extra $2,000 into your IRA won't make much of a difference, but if you encounter a medical issue early in retirement that costs that exact amount, you'll be less stressed about it. Similarly, moving some assets around in your portfolio could protect you from losses if the stock market happens to crash the moment you start taking retirement plan withdrawals.
Make the above moves as you gear up to exit the workforce. They could have more of an impact than you'd think.