Planning for retirement in your 60s

This is it! You're looking at retiring in the not-too-distant future -- but when exactly may not be completely clear. People who are in their 60s now are much less likely to have guaranteed retirement income from pensions or other plans than previous generations.

This means you'll have to do some detailed advance planning before you decide to end your career. With that in mind, here are some steps to make sure that in your 60s you can look forward to a stable financial future.

First things first: Pick your retirement date, and plan around it. While you may not know the exact date, picking one and planning around it will help you get an idea of what your bottom line will be afterward. And knowing your cash flow is going to be critical, because it will help you make other key decisions.

One of these decisions will be determining where you're going to live. We live in a vastly different world than the one our parents retired in. Medical care in Panama City, Panama, rivals that of Panama City, Fla. And for that reason, you might consider the former a viable option for retired life. Indeed, many Americans are retiring south of the border in Central America, or other places around the world.

Knowing where you're going to live is critical to knowing what you can afford.

Next, draw up a retirement budget -- and don't forget to include medical costs. This is possibly the most important of the steps in your 60s because it's the cumulative event that encompasses all of your current assets and obligations, and apportions them out for the rest of your life.

As a part of this, you need to understand and review your Social Security options, your retirement portfolio and your debts. It's also the exercise of really understanding where your savings will get you.

When you build this budget, take a sober look at where you stand and chart a conservative course for you and your family. And make sure -- absolutely sure -- that you're including medical costs in this budget.

Once you have a budget, run through possible scenarios for your retirement. You now should have enough facts and figures to see how your plan will react to a stress test. What would happen if the market takes a tumble? If you have to withdraw 6 percent rather than 4 percent one year?

Making sure that your retirement funds can handle some unexpected downturns will build peace of mind.

Finally, review your estate plans. Nobody wants to think about these things, but you must. You need to draw up a will and make sure that everyone involved -- your spouse, your children and other family members -- are clear on the details.

Taking all these steps in your 60s will ensure that you're heading into retirement with a realistic picture of what to expect.
  • Mellody Hobson

    View all articles by Mellody Hobson on CBS MoneyWatch»
    Mellody Hobson is President of Ariel Investments, a Chicago-based money management firm that serves individual investors and retirement plans through its no-load mutual funds and separate accounts. Additionally, she is a regular financial contributor and analyst for CBS News and CBSNews.com.

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