4 min read June 08, 2021
A 5-step yearly financial checkup to help you retire

When’s the last time you looked at the details of your retirement savings accounts? A yearly account review helps keep everything from your address to balances and beneficiaries in order.

Man who performs regular checkups on his vehicle much like on his retirement plan to determine if his goals are still on track.

There are all sorts of regular check-ins on your to-do lists, from paying the bills to changing the oil. 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: Half of Americans are behind on retirement savings, and one in five don’t know how well they’re progressing.1

You can 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®.

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. “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,” Poorman says.

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. Consider this: Social Security was created in 1935, when the average life expectancy was just 65.2 Today, we could spend 20 to 30 years (or even more) in retirement.

Graphic of a thumbtack.Tip: There’s no magic “retirement income” number, but you can use a retirement planner to find possible guidelines based on your age and lifestyle goals.

2. Consider retirement account 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.

3. Rebalance your retirement accounts.

  • Automatic rebalancing allocations on retirement savings redistributes money in an account to pre-set percentages in each investment as originally selected. 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. People get married (or divorced), have children, or add other family members. 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. A trusted person, such as executor of your estate or lawyer, should know where to access them.

What to do next?

1 https://www.bankrate.com/surveys/financial-security-poll-november-2019/

2 Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/history/hfaq.html

3 You should consider the differences in investment options and risks, fees and expenses, tax implications, services, and penalty-free withdrawals for your various options. There may be other factors to consider due to your specific needs and situation. You may wish to consult your tax advisor or legal counsel.

Important information

Investment and Insurance products are:

  • Not Insured by the FDIC or Any Federal Government Agency
  • Not a Deposit or Other Obligation of, or Guaranteed by Credit Union or Bank
  • Subject to Investment Risks, Including Possible Loss of the Principal Amount Invested

Asset allocation and diversification do not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.

The Retirement Wellness Planner information and Retirement Wellness Score are limited only to the inputs and other financial assumptions and are not intended to be a financial plan or investment advice from any company of the Principal Financial Group® or plan sponsor. This calculator only provides education, which may be helpful in making personal financial decisions. Responsibility for those decisions is assumed by the participant, not the plan sponsor and not by any member of Principal®. Individual results will vary. Participants should regularly review their savings progress and post-retirement needs.

The subject matter in this communication is educational only and provided with the understanding that Principal® is not rendering legal, accounting, investment or tax advice. You should consult with appropriate counsel, financial professional or other advisors on all matters pertaining to legal, tax, investment or accounting obligations and requirements.

Financial professionals are sales representatives for the members of Principal Financial Group. They do not represent, offer or compare products and services of other financial service organizations.

Investment advisory products offered through Principal Advised Services, LLC. Des Moines, IA 50392.

Insurance products and plan administrative services provided through Principal Life Insurance Co. Principal Funds, Inc. is distributed by Principal Funds Distributor, Inc. Securities offered through Principal Securities, Inc., 800-547-7754, member SIPC and/or independent broker-dealers. Principal Life, Principal Funds Distributor, Inc. and Principal Securities are members of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, IA 50392.