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When You Should Start Your Plan for Retirement

What to do 5 years before you retire…


The truth is, the earlier you start preparing for your retirement, the smoother and more successful your transition is likely to be.

As a rule of thumb, we suggest starting your planning within five years of your intended retirement date.

This timeframe gives you more than enough time to consider how much money you will need during retirement, where that income will come from, and what your retired lifestyle will look like.

By planning early, you can avoid any last-minute surprises or stress so you can smoothly \transition into retirement!

And, with a clear plan in place, you can start looking forward to all the fun activities and adventures you’ll be able to do with your newfound freedom.


Here are some key things to consider when you start planning for retirement:

1. The importance of creating a retirement plan as you transition into retirement

Some people put off planning for their retirement until it’s almost too late to make any proactive beneficial changes which can lead to a lot of stress and surprises down the road.  This is why it’s important to lay the foundation for your future by creating a plan (preferably a written plan) in advance. 

In our experience, people who have a plan for their retirement are much more confident about their finances than those who don’t.  A written retirement plan will provide you with a clear roadmap to follow.

With a clear plan in place, you will have plenty of time to structure your investments and savings goals so you won’t be scrambling at the end to figure out how much money you need to live off, where that income will come from, and what your retirement lifestyle will look like.

By understanding your financial picture earlier, you can make potentially better decisions for your retirement. And you can follow a clear path as you transition into your next chapter.


2. The benefits of starting to plan five years ahead of time

There are many benefits to beginning your plan for retirement five years from your intended date. Here are some of the most important ones:

  1. You’ll feel more in control of your finances because you’ll know well in advance what your financial picture is likely to look like when you retire.
  2. You’ll identify any opportunities you have to improve your finances well in advance.
  3. You’ll identify the obstacles to your ideal vision of retirement and will have more time to manage them.
  4. If you start your retirement planning early, you can focus on restructuring your investments to match your retirement goals. This gives you a better chance of success because it protects against external events that may otherwise damage an unprotected plan–such as fluctuations in the stock market or an economic recession.  Protected plans offer a greater sense of financial confidence, knowing that even if the world around you shifts and changes, your own personal transition to retirement stays firmly on track.
  5. You’ll have plenty of time to experiment and research a variety of retirement lifestyles so you can decide which one is best for you.



3. How to begin planning for your transition to retirement

Here are some ways you can get started planning for your retirement:

  1. Figure out how much income your savings and other resources will be able to produce when you retire. This is the most critical stage in the process because it will give you an indication of how much money you’ll make in retirement.  Only after you have this can you start to make real-life decisions about your future. It may be helpful to work with a retirement specialist while exploring possible income scenarios.
  2. Create a draft budget for your retirement years. This way, you’ll have a good idea of how much money you’ll need each month. Play around with the numbers and make many variations to get a sense of what the budgets look like when different things are changed. If there’s a gap between your planned spending and expected income, there are income strategies you can follow that will help you bridge that gap and still enjoy a comfortable retirement.
  3. Research different retirement lifestyles. Trying out different retirement lifestyles before you retire is a great way to figure out which one is right for you. If you start planning five years ahead of time, you’ll have plenty of time to research different lifestyles and find the one that’s best for you and your needs. Have you considered any locations to move to when you retire? Why not visit the place for a more extended period of time, such as a few weeks out of the year, to see if you like it.
  4. Make sure your investments are ready. By starting early, you’ll have plenty of time to focus on restructuring your investments from an accumulation strategy to a distribution strategy because the strategies you used to accumulate wealth for retirement should not be the same ones that you use when you retire.  Converting to an investment plan designed for the distribution phase of your life will help keep you from being derailed by external events such as the stock market or a recession. This is one of the biggest advantages of starting your planning for transitioning to retirement early. To learn more about this shift we offer a free resource called The Retirement Guidebook™. Access your copy here.

4. What else you should know about creating a financial plan for retirement?

An important thing to keep in mind when planning your retirement income is that it’s not just about the amount of money you have saved up.

You’ll also need to consider things such as Social Security, pensions, and other income sources. By starting early, you’ll have plenty of time to research your options and make sure you structure your retirement income to provide you with as much opportunity for success as possible.



Planning for retirement may seem daunting, but if you start early and take it one step at a time, you’ll be on your way to a worry-free transition.

The tips we’ve provided in this article are a great place to start, but don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more personalized advice.

Our team specializes in helping people transition into retirement. We’re here to help make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible.

 What steps will you take today to start planning for your retirement?





For those of you new to our content, my name is Chris Merchant, CFP®. I am the founder of Hunt Country Wealth Management. My firm and I are dedicated to serving the distinguished needs of today’s modern retirees nationwide. We strive to help YOU experience the freedom and independence of a well-planned retirement.

If you are close to retirement, I invite you to download our Free Retirement Guidebook™. In this resource, we help you understand the single most important shift you need to make before you retire.

Thanks for reading!


Have questions about retirement, investing, or financial planning?


Hunt Country Wealth Management can help.
Click below to explore our services, or schedule a 15-Minute Discovery Call to talk with an advisor.

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At Hunt Country Wealth Management we specialize in providing personalized financial services tailored for individuals aged 50 and above. From retirement planning to comprehensive investment management, our experienced team is here to guide you every step of the way.

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By: Chris Merchant, CFP® 

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