Retirement Planning in Your 40s

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By now, you've probably become comfortable with your role as educator. It's also time to start thinking more seriously about your eventual role as a retired educator. Time is still on your side – but there is less of it – which requires a more disciplined savings approach to help you get the most out of your money. Use this checklist to help prepare for a financially secure retirement.

  • Investigate your retirement accounts. Start with your CalSTRS or CalPERS retirement benefits. This is the foundation for your retirement. You’ll find links to benefits counseling, workshops, benefits calculators and more at www.calstrs.com and www.calpers.ca.gov.
  • Attend the "CalSTRS Fundamentals" workshop.
  • Keep track of pensions and retirement accounts from past employers. Find out if it makes sense to roll over the account balance to your current employer's retirement plan. You can search for lost pensions at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
  • Ask about medical benefits for retirees. Find out if your employer will continue to cover you and your spouse under the district's insurance plan in retirement. Also explore retiree medical benefits through a spouse (and if so, eligibility requirements).
  • Calculate how much you need to save. Most educators find they need to replace 90% to 100% of their pre-retirement income to maintain a comfortable lifestyle in retirement – even more if retiree medical insurance is not available through your district.
  • Determine your savings strategy. If you haven’t already mapped out a retirement plan and calculated how much you will need to live comfortably in retirement, now is the time to determine the best savings strategy for your goals. You still have time on your side: The average age of a CalPERS retiree is 60 years; the average CalSTRS retiree is 61.3 years.
  • Use the information at ctainvest.org to learn more about your investing options.
  • Contribute as much as you can to your 403(b) or 457 plan to help you reach your savings goals. Consider an individual retirement account if you've tapped out your 403(b) or 457 plan contributions.
  • Rebalance your investments regularly. Rebalancing can help ensure that your portfolio matches your timeline, goals and risk tolerance. Rebalancing (adjusting the percentage of your portfolio invested in stocks, bonds or other investment products) helps keep your nest egg growing. If you have suffered investment losses, you may have to think about increasing the amount you are saving or delaying your retirement and working a few more years.
  • Update your estate plan. Due to changes in your personal and financial situation, you may need to update your beneficiaries. Make sure that primary and contingent beneficiaries on retirement plans, brokerage accounts, life insurance and other assets not controlled by your will are up-to-date. Learn more about beneficiary designations for your 403(b).
  • Review life and disability insurance. Find out if life and disability insurance are offered through your district and determine your appropriate level of coverage. Looking ahead, life insurance needs may be reduced in retirement, but you may benefit by locking in lower rates while you're in good health.
  • If you have Social Security-eligible earnings through another job, estimate what you might expect at www.socialsecurity.gov.
  • Consider long-term care insurance. Buying a policy now may help preserve your nest egg later. You can choose coverage for assisted living, home health care and nursing home costs that you may otherwise pay out of pocket.