All Articles

How to Make the Retirement Transition

Profile Image
SHARE LinkedIn Icon X Icon Facebook Icon Email Icon

How to Make the Retirement Transition

Although most of us anticipate retiring at 65, many of us opt to do so at 63 or earlier, for a variety of reasons. That means that many people currently in their late forties and early fifties are drawing nearer to retirement than they may realize.

man and woman riding motorcycle on dirt road

If you’re in that age range, below is a retirement planning checklist designed to help you fuel progress at a reasonable pace. Everyone is unique of course, so this information is neither exhaustive nor a substitute for working with a financial advisor. Still, it can help you assess where you are now and what you might want to do to get where you want to be on Day 1 of your retirement.

10-15 years from retirement

Even if you haven’t saved meticulously to date, there’s still plenty of time to get started. In fact, with the right strategy in place, you have a nice window of opportunity to increase your retirement savings.

To-do list:

  • Schedule a meeting with a financial advisor.
  • If you haven’t already done so, set up automatic deposits into an employer-sponsored savings plan such as a 401(k) or a 403(b) plan.
  • Complete and/or update any important legal documents (e.g., will, power of attorney for healthcare or medical proxy, advanced directive or living will).
  • Establish routines that support healthy eating, daily exercise, getting outside and managing stress — all of which can help avoid dipping into your savings to address health concerns.

5-10 years from retirement

If you have already started investing in your retirement fund, the time may now be right to increase the amount of money you are saving. You might want to consider maintaining your current standard of living and putting that extra money toward retirement or another long-term goal.

Now is also a good time to practice living on a more limited income, if feasible, so that you’ll be better prepared to live with less money later.

If you’re returning to the paid workforce after raising children or caring for elders — and you are 50 years or older, you can try to catch up on retirement savings by contributing additional “catch up” funds to your 401(k) or 403(b) plans.

To-do list:

  • Meet with your financial advisor and go over your goals and any recent or upcoming life changes, such as children going off to college or getting married.
  • Consider increasing the amount you are putting into your retirement savings.
  • Complete and/or update any important legal documents (e.g., will, power of attorney for healthcare or medical proxy, advanced directive or living will).
  • Make sure someone you trust knows where you keep your passcodes for online accounts and websites.
  • Consider obtaining long-term care insurance.
  • Develop a plan to pay off existing debt and avoid taking on new debt.
  • Maintain your health by eating sensibly, exercising daily, managing stress and visiting the doctor and dentist regularly.

1-3 years from retirement

Retirement is around the corner! If you’ve done your planning to get to this point, now is the time to refine your focus. There are a lot of decisions to be made before you leave work for the last time.

Also, if your retirement savings isn't where you would like it to be, then now might be a good time to explore increasing your retirement plan contributions and work toward paying down any debt.

To-do list:

  • Talk to your financial advisor about types of investments to help preserve your portfolio.
  • Make sure you have a current, well-documented financial strategy for retirement.
  • Determine how much after-tax income you will need to maintain your lifestyle (and expect that you might need more as you age).
  • Learn about your Medicare options and when to enroll.
  • Make or review your long-term care plans and insurance.
  • Discuss your financial situation with family members, as well as your wishes for when you pass.
  • Review and/or update any important legal documents (e.g., will, power of attorney for healthcare or medical proxy, advanced directive or living will).
  • Budget for home modifications that will allow you to age in place.
  • Establish or continue your commitment to healthy eating and daily exercise.
  • Maintain family and social connections. Healthy relationships may help keep you feeling good as you begin retirement, which can require emotional and psychological adjustments.

The takeaway

Of course, no matter how far you are from your first day of retirement, we know there is no one-size-fits-all to retirement planning. That’s why it is so important to work with a knowledgeable financial advisor who will help you explore strategies and solutions that fit your goals today and as you plan for the future.

This article was last updated April 2024.

Information in this article is general in nature and for your consideration, not as financial advice. Please contact your own financial professionals regarding your specific needs before taking any action based upon this information.

Investment products are not insured by the FDIC, NCUA or any federal agency, are not deposits or obligations of, or guaranteed by any financial institution, and involve investment risks including possible loss of principal and fluctuation in value.

Ameriprise Financial Services has a partnership with this financial institution to provide financial planning services and solutions to clients. The financial institution is not an investment client of Ameriprise but has a revenue sharing relationship with us that creates a conflict of interest. Details on how we work together can be found on

This information is being provided only as a general source of information and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any securities, accounts or strategies mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for investment decisions, nor should it be construed as a recommendation or advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual investor. Please seek the advice of a financial advisor regarding your particular financial situation.

Ameriprise Financial is not affiliated with the financial institution.

Ameriprise Financial cannot guarantee future financial results.

RBFCU Investments Group is a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC

Investment advisory products and services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC, a registered investment adviser.

Securities offered by Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC. Member FINRA and SIPC.