Retirement, Investments, & Insurance for Individuals Build your knowledge A 5-step yearly financial checkup to help you retire

A 5-step yearly financial checkup to help you retire

A yearly retirement account review helps keep everything from your address to balances and beneficiaries in order.

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4 min read |

There are all sorts of regular check-ins on your to-do lists, from paying the bills to a health checkup. But when’s the last time you reviewed your retirement savings accounts?

If your answer is “I’m not sure” or “Never,” you’re not alone: 40% of savers say they feel behind schedule planning for retirement1 and nearly two-thirds are not confident they’ll have enough money saved to live comfortably in retirement.2

You can help remedy that by adding a retirement review to your regular list of to-dos.

“It's important to do, at a minimum, an annual financial checkup on your retirement readiness,” says Stanley Poorman, a financial professional with Principal®. “This allows you to adjust things like your asset allocation and funding to help you stay on track for one of the largest goals you'll save for—retirement.”

Tackling a financial check-in at mid-year may help—taxes aren’t due and end-of-year planning hasn’t kicked in—but really, whatever is most convenient can work.

Use this five-step list to help shore up the details—big and small.

1. Check all retirement account balances and contributions.

  • Make a list of every retirement account you have, as well as each account’s balance. The list may include plans through your current and former employers and past savings, too.
  • Review how much you’re contributing to your current retirement savings plan. Contribute at least enough to ensure you receive the maximum employer match. If your employer doesn’t have a retirement savings plan, you can set up and contribute to a traditional or Roth individual retirement account (IRA).
  • Figure out what income you might have available once you stop working. The retirement savings you need depends on how long you’ll continue working as well as average life span and costs, particularly health care.

2. Consider combining your retirement accounts (consolidation).

  • Having just one account (and one balance) to check, which you can get through consolidation, may make it easier to track goals and progress.
  • Not sure how to consolidate? Rolling your accounts into an IRA or into your current employer’s 401(k) plan is one common option. Learn all about your consolidation options.

3. Rebalance your retirement accounts.

  • Over time, some investment returns may fluctuate more than others, so your mix of investments (asset allocation) can shift. You could be taking on more risk—or less—than you originally intended. Automatic rebalancing resets your investments so they’re back in line with your original mix. It’s a great way to know your mix of investments continues as you intend, or until you make a change.
  • If you prefer to allocate yourself, consider rebalancing at least once a year to help ensure your accounts track investment strategies. You may want to consider shifting your mix of investments based on your risk tolerance, retirement age, and available investment options.

4. Review contact information and beneficiaries.

  • Check that every institution has your most current contact information. That includes both a secure email and a mailing address. If not, log in or call customer service to change it.
  • Review the beneficiaries on every retirement savings account. To change a beneficiary, you’ll need the person’s full name and date of birth. (Social Security numbers are a good idea, but not required by every plan.)

5. Safely share retirement account information.

  • Keep all your retirement account information in a secure place. Those documents are part of your legacy-related paperwork that typically includes items such as wills. Tell a trusted person, such as executor of your estate or lawyer, where to access them.

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