One of the points we often stress with our clients is to focus on what you can control and on what matters most in your life.  Here are several simple steps you can take to assert greater control over your life and retirement planning.

Pay yourself first. Save some money each month. One of the easiest ways is to contribute to your retirement plan.

Put your savings on autopilot. Enroll in your company retirement plan and have them automatically deduct your savings from each paycheck.  A reasonable figure is 10 percent to 15 percent.

Consider waiting a few years before beginning Social Security. For each year you either take your Social Security early or defer it, your benefit moves about 8 percent. For example, an estimated Social Security benefit for a person born in 1951 and earning $54,500/year would be:

  • Age 62 = $1,077
  • Age 66 = $1,504
  • Age 70 = $2,046

In addition, Social Security has an annual cost of living adjustment, a 20-year average 2.5 percent increase per year to adjust for inflation.

Consider how a change in retirement planning for a married couple both born in 1951 and earning $54,500 might impact their retirement income.  If one took the benefit at 62 in 2013 ($1,077/mo) and the other took the benefit at age 70 in 2021 ($2,046), by age 76 their household benefits would be about $3,895/mo ($1,522/mo plus  $2,373/mo). If they both took their benefits at age 66, they’d receive $3,850/mo ($1,925/mo X 2). While the monthly total is nearly the same, the important  difference is that the survivor in the first scenario would likely retain $2,373/mo vs. $1,925/mo. Thus, if you have a long life-expectancy, deferring benefits may provide the survivor more inflation adjusted income.

Take the time to be proactive and consider these simple planning steps.  By taking action, you and your family will be better prepared, and you will have a greater sense of control.