People who are considering retiring at the end of this year need to be doing a number of steps now to see if it is possible to do so and achieve the best outcome. All retirement planning starts with one thing and that is income planning. You must have enough income to pay your bills and to cover whatever is on your bucket list. You will make less money when retired, or most people would have already stopped working. Hopefully you have been preparing by paying down debt and increasing your savings.

One of the first decisions many people make is deciding when to start receiving Social Security benefits. It is an important income source that you have been paying into all of your life. This does not mean that you immediately start receiving benefits. Software programs are available that help evaluate different claiming options. If you begin taking benefits before your full retirement age, you will receive about 6½% less for every year. Someone born after 1960 with a full retirement age of 67 will get about 30% in every check for the rest of their life if they start taking benefits at 62. This adds up to a large loss of income over the years. I recently worked on a case where a couple will receive an extra $149,000 over their lifetime with planning, if they just have a normal life expectancy.

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