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Your pre-retirement checklist

Dec 14, 2021
Empower Insights

Use this savings checklist to prepare for retirement

When it comes to saving for your future, you have to start somewhere.

So why not start now?


Life has a way of flying by when you’re young, so it’s a good idea to get ahead while you can. That means beginning with the basics and laying a solid financial foundation.

Once you land your first job in the “real world,” enroll in your employer-sponsored 401(k) program as soon as you become eligible to participate. The earlier you start, the more your account can grow over time. And, don’t forget to meet your company match, which is like free money. If your employer provides a common dollar-for-dollar formula up to a certain percentage, you could potentially double your overall input by increasing your deferral rate to achieve the full company-match amount.


You’re picking up steam in your career. Plus, maybe you recently got married, had a baby or bought a home. Congratulations! But even when you take on more responsibility, remember to prioritize your long-term financial goals.

Writing out a formal plan for your future is a healthy habit that can have a big impact on your nest egg. When do you want to call it quits? What bills might you have when you’re retired? Where do you want you want to live? Will you explore new hobbies, travel more or work part-time?  Empower research shows those who put to pen paper are on track to replace over 100% of their income down the road.

Pre-retirement checklist cover image, download



You may have had a ball turning “over the hill” with balloons and cake, but your retirement party will be just as important.

Where do you stand?

Our retirement calculator can help you determine how much money you might need to fund your golden years. If you’re not where you want to be, consider boosting your deferral rate to make up ground. Empower insight reveals those who save 10% from each paycheck are on pace to replace 100% of their working income.


Are your kids older and out of the house? Depending on your lifestyle and situation, being halfway to 100 may actually equal more “me” time with fewer school drop-offs, soccer practices or family obligations.

But turning 50 (or above) comes with a few financial perks as well, most notably being able to put away more for retirement. Catch-up contributions, which are determined by the IRS on an annual basis, can help you make up for earlier years when you may not have had the means to save as much.

The 401(k) catch-up contribution limit for 2022 is $6,500 for traditional and safe harbor 401(k) plans and $3,000 for SIMPLE 401(k) plans. So if you’re eligible, and are 50 or over at the end of the calendar year, you may be able to contribute even more than the $20,500 2022 IRS contribution limit.


Some folks believe “60 is the new 50.” While that may be true in how you feel physically, retirement may still be just around the corner. Use this opportunity to set an official date for hanging it up and take a minute to review your distribution options in the process. Typically, plans offer flexible preferences, such as periodic payments or a lump sum, so select the one that best fits your needs.

While you’re at it, also evaluate your potential Social Security benefits, which you may be able to start collecting once you celebrate your 62nd birthday. However, you may want to carefully consider the benefits of waiting. The longer you wait to file, the more money you may pocket in the long run. In fact, for each year you delay claiming, your value may grow by 7-8% (until you turn 70).

Want more financial tips? Use our savings checklist for each age and stage of life.

Pre-retirement checklist cover image, download



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