Preparing for retirement often centers on how you have planned for retirement. Being prepared years before you retire is the most effective strategy. However, even if your timeframe is much shorter, what you do today to prepare could save you from hardship and stress in the future.

Here are a few questions to ask when preparing for your retirement.

When do I want to retire
When do I want to retire?

If you have time on your side then lowering risk, creating income for life options, and ensuring a legacy can all be planned out now. Having an idea of when you want to retire doesn’t always match up with when you can retire. Does your retirement plan match up with your current financial outlook?

Do i want to take risk
Do I want to take risk?

Often, the status quo says, “I am young enough to take risk.” However, you are also young enough not to have to take risk. When preparing for retirement, risk makes our reality much less certain. There is never a good time to lose money, and losing money right before you retire is even worse.

Have I accounted for taxes
Have I accounted for taxes?

One of the biggest mistakes many individuals make, especially with 401ks and IRAs, is not accounting properly for taxes. How much tax will you be paying? What tax bracket will you end up in? How much taxable income will you be forced to take? Understanding your outcomes will give you a better understanding of where you are going to end up, without having surprises at the last minute.

Are there other income streams
Are there other income streams available to me that I am unaware of?

Knowing where your money will be coming from—pensions, government sponsored plans, even Social Security—will give you a more thorough retirement plan. A poor plan can sometimes net you less money, especially if taxes are not properly accounted for. Understanding all of your options will help you be better prepared for a successful retirement.

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