Do you need to identify your personal financial and retirement goals?

  • A general rule of thumb is to plan on replacing 70% to 90% of your pre-retirement earnings in retirement.  The closer you get to retirement, the better it is to work with actual numbers. The following website provides an exercise to help you establish your retirement goals along with a great overview of retirement planning: 

Do you need to pay off credit card balances and set up an emergency fund?

Do you need to get a better picture of your current income and expenditures and assess how these will change in retirement?

Do you need to obtain a more accurate benefit estimate from Social Security?

  • There are two places you will want to visit on the Social Security website.  The first link is where you go to get your Benefit Statement.  Social Security used to mail these out annually, but you can now retrieve them online.  The statement provides an estimate of your benefit at your full retirement age, at age 70 and at age 62.  It also provides disability, family and survivor estimates.  It displays your earnings, which is very important to CSRS employees when using the WEP calculator.  The second link allows you to obtain a more customized estimate.  You can enter the date you actually plan to stop working and change future wages. It allows you to look at additional scenarios that are not included on the Benefit Statement.

Do you need to get an idea of how much money you will have in your TSP account when you retire based on your current contributions?

  • The TSP website has a number of calculators that can be very helpful in the retirement planning process.  You can project your account balance, figure out how long your money will last based on a specific withdrawal amount or calculate the monthly income you would receive if you decide to purchase an annuity.

Do you need to know if you're saving enough money to meet your retirement goals?

  • OPM has a newly revamped website which includes the federal version of the Ballpark E$timate Calculator.  It will calculate your CSRS or FERS annuity, project your TSP account balance at retirement and calculate the monthly annuity payment you will receive if you choose to purchase an annuity with your TSP money.  Most importantly, it will provide you with an Overall Status Summary which tells you whether you’re on track to meet your goals and how much additional savings you will need if your current plan will not get you to your goal. It will ask you to enter non-TSP savings and your estimated monthly Social Security payment.  To effectively utilize the calculator, you will need to decide what percent of your pre-retirement earnings you wish to replace in retirement.  You will also need to know your estimated monthly  Social Security benefit.  You will  be asked to enter your assumptions on inflation rate, wage growth, rate of return on investments or TSP annuity and life expectancy.  You can use the defaults built into the calculator, but you may wish to enter a more realistic life expectancy figure.  Below you will find a link to a life expectancy calculator as well as OPM’s Ballpark Estimator.

Do you need to explore your options for Long Term Care Insurance?

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