Retirement planning: Nonfinancial inventory checklist

Portrait of a romantic senior couple spending time together - copyspace
iStock

(MoneyWatch) This post supplements my recent article on taking inventory of your financial documents for retirement. Financial documents and paperwork aren't the only items you should collect and organize.

To supplement your financial records inventory, here's a checklist of the nonfinancial items you should also collect:

  • Collect any records that apply to any chronic medical conditions you may have. It's possible that many years after you were first diagnosed or treated, your doctor may want to know the details of your medical history, any medications you've taken or the results of screening tests. Be sure to include contact information for your current and past medical providers.
  • Make a list of the names, addresses and phone numbers of all the health care practitioners that you use, including doctors, nurses, physical therapists, chiropractors, nutritionists, acupuncturists and so on.
  • Make a list of all the prescription drugs that you take regularly. If the list is long, you may want to discuss with your doctor any lifestyle changes you could make that would reduce the number of drugs that you take (and pay for).
  • Collect your will and trust documents, and make sure that your executor and heirs know where they are.
  • Keep a list of your digital assets and important computer files, including safely storing passwords. You want to make sure that your survivors have access to your important digital assets.
  • Keep copies of articles on any nonfinancial aspect of retirement that piques your interest, including housing, health and lifestyle.

In addition to compiling the necessary information, spend some time thinking about your social assets. Who are the people you can rely on for support in your retirement years? What government or nonprofit organizations might help? Most people will need to supplement their financial capital with human capital in their retirement years, so it's important to include a social inventory for your retirement. You might even want to create an electronic file that includes contact information for these people.

While you're collecting all this information, you may also want to review your ordinary living expenses, such as rent, mortgage, utilities and food, insurance. The No. 1 strategy that retirees use to make ends meet in retirement is to carefully manage their living expenses, so it may help to compile an estimated budget of your living expenses in retirement.

One word of advice: You might be tempted to start reviewing the items while you're in the process of collecting them, but that will only bog you down. I'd suggest you resist that temptation and simply focus on collecting and organizing. Once all the documents are neatly stored in their respective folders, then you can go back and review and study the information.

As with the steps I've outlined in prior weeks, it might take more than one week to collect all the appropriate information. That's OK -- take all the time you need. And keep working at the steps you started in prior weeks -- this post and the others in this series will still be here at CBS MoneyWatch if you need to refer to them again. Just get started and keep making steady progress. Take a few small steps each week, and you should feel confident that you're getting your retirement under control.

  • Steve Vernon On Twitter»

    View all articles by Steve Vernon on CBS MoneyWatch»
    Steve Vernon helped large employers design and manage their retirement programs for more than 35 years as a consulting actuary. Now he's a research scholar for the Stanford Center on Longevity, where he helps collect, direct and disseminate research that will improve the financial security of seniors. He's also president of Rest-of-Life Communications, delivers retirement planning workshops and authored Money for Life: Turn Your IRA and 401(k) Into a Lifetime Retirement Paycheck and Recession-Proof Your Retirement Years.