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Ready To Retire? Answer These 7 Questions First

Being prepared for retirement can depend not only on how well you save and invest, but also on how well you consider other necessities, such as health care and even your emotional needs. But not every retiree conducts this type of analysis before making the leap from the workforce.

Before you commit to leaving your career, ask yourself these seven questions to gauge your overall retirement readiness.

1. Is your retirement budget sound?

It's fairly common to underestimate retirement savings needs, particularly if you haven't completed a retirement needs calculation.

"Having a deep understanding of one's current expenses is the first step in predicting future expenses," says Brooke Bees, a certified financial planner with Mercer Advisors. "Most Americans tend to spend the same amount on lifestyle expenditures like food, entertainment and travel in retirement as they do in the years building up to it."

Knowing whether you've fully funded your 401(k), IRA and savings account requires knowing your spending patterns. There are no shortcuts around plugging in actual numbers.

2. How stable are your investment vehicles?

Market turbulence can dramatically impact a retirement portfolio, particularly during the early years of a withdrawal strategy. There's usually no new money coming in post-retirement, leading to a limited ability to rebuild assets after a loss. Increasing the number of fixed-income investments (bonds) while decreasing exposure to equities (stocks) can help mitigate risk and boost your portfolio's stability.

However, "no matter the ratio between stocks and bonds," says Bees, "being well diversified is paramount. A retirement portfolio's success should not hinge on one company, industry or country. Diversification remains the best means to reduce risk."

3. Do you have adequate health care coverage?

Many Americans rely on the health care coverage provided or subsidized by their employer. For many employees, those benefits end once retirement begins, yet a financially healthy retirement depends upon the procurement of proper health care coverage.

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