8 Ways Retirees Can Spring Clean Their Finances


So you've finally made the jump out of the working world and into blissful retirement. Congratulations! If you've been careful in your financial planning, you should have plenty of money to sustain yourself for a long time and have a happy post-work life. But even the most well-off retirees could benefit from re-examining their financial situation.

Here are a few ways retirees can get their finances spic and span this spring.

1. Check your spending

After you've spent a large portion of your life amassing a large retirement fund, you may feel like your days of watching every dollar are over. But it's still important to make sure your expenses aren't higher than what your savings can afford. Now that you are home instead of heading to the office every day, you may be spending more on utilities. You may have unreimbursed expenses relating to caring for your grandchildren. That African safari trip may have cost you more than expected.

If you have an annuity or are making regular withdrawals in retirement, it's important to avoid spending more than those payments. Otherwise, you may find yourself lacking in funds down the road. You may be fortunate to live for many more years, but you don't want to go broke along the way. (See also: 6 Ways You Can Cut Costs Right Before You Retire)

2. Meet with a financial adviser

Even retirees who have plenty of money and a good financial plan can benefit from a checkup with an adviser. A good financial planner can help you assess whether your retirement savings are still on track to last and if there are any necessary tweaks. An adviser can also help walk you through any changes to tax laws and explain any changes to the investment landscape. Once you retire, don't just put your head in the sand and assume your money will last as long as you do. A periodic financial check-in with an expert can be hugely valuable to anyone seeking the best retirement possible. (See also: 3 Reasons to Be Picky When Hiring a Financial Planner)

3. Assess your withdrawals

Once you reach age 70 ½, you may be required to make minimum withdrawals from your retirement accounts. The ultimate size of these withdrawals — and whether you decide to start withdrawing sooner — will determine how much you have to live on, and how much you'll have left in your accounts. If you are taking withdrawals already, take some time to determine whether the amount taken out each month is sufficient or too much. (See also: 3 Financial Penalties Every Retiree Should Avoid)

4. Re-examine your will

You remember filling out a will many years ago, but do you remember what it says? Do you still agree with the directives regarding who gets your assets when you pass? These aren't pleasant things to think about, but your family will appreciate it if your wishes are made clear. It may even make sense to discuss this with your children and other family members so there are no surprises or acrimony later. (See also: 6 Times You Need to Update Your Will)

5. Rebalance your portfolio

If you are retired, your investment portfolio should be geared more toward preserving income than growing it. It's OK to own some stocks, but it makes sense to also mix in some bonds, cash, and other more conservative investments. You may think your portfolio is optimized for retirement, but there's a chance it may have gotten out of balance. This is especially true over the last few years when stocks have performed very well.

Everyone, not just retirees, is encouraged to rebalance their portfolios every year. If you haven't taken a hard look at your investments in a while, take the time to see if some smart buying and selling will get you back on the right track. (See also: 7 Reasons to Invest in Stocks Past Age 50)

6. Do a deep dive into your charitable giving

You may finally be in a position to be generous with your money. But are you being smart and strategic about how you are giving to charity?

Charitable donations are not only a wonderful thing to do, they can help you financially by saving you on taxes. If you itemize tax deductions, charitable donations can reduce your tax bill. Donating shares of stock to a charity can help you avoid capital gains taxes. If you are considering donating to charity, come up with a smart plan to support the causes you love as part of a broader tax savings strategy. (See also: 5 Ways Giving to Charity Is Good for You)

7. Assess your health insurance situation

Older Americans can benefit from Medicare, but you may not be eligible if you retire early. And even if you do get Medicare, that doesn't cover every medical expense. Most retirees find that they need to purchase a Medicare supplement plan, as well as additional insurance for eyeglasses, hearing aids, dental work, and other health needs. You'll also need to consider whether long-term care insurance is right for you. Don't assume you are properly insured just because you are eligible for Medicare. (See also: How to Make Sense of the Different Parts of Medicare)

8. Hit the gym and eat better

Exercising may not seem like a financial decision, but in many ways it is. Getting and staying healthy will not only help you enjoy retirement more, but it could help reduce medical bills that may not be covered by insurance. Work to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, and make better lifestyle choices. You may find yourself not only healthier, but wealthier too. (See also: 7 Smart Ways to Invest in Your Health)

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