Key questions to ask when planning for retirement

(NC)—A trusted financial advisor can help you plan for just about any of life's major financial events, and one of the most concerning – particularly in the current economic environment – is planning for retirement.

“A financial planner can help you navigate through the potentially frustrating and confusing world of personal finance,” says John Finnie, director of investment and insurance services for Meridian. “Here are some key questions you can ask – and other things to keep in mind – that will help make a conversation about retirement planning with a financial advisor more productive.”

1. How do you picture yourself…retired? Do you want to travel around the world or do you want to move to a condo and have a quiet lifestyle? Everyone has a different retirement dream and by sharing that dream with your financial advisor they can help you develop a financial plan to get you there.

2. How much money will I need to retire? Now that you have an idea of what your ideal retirement looks like, you need to figure out how much you need to save to get there. While there is no standard cookie-cutter answer, many financial experts agree that on average, you will need between 60 per cent and 80 per cent of what you earned pre-retirement. Ideally, you will be retiring without a mortgage and therefore your cost of living may not be as high as it was during your pre-retirement lifestyle. On the other hand, travel and new activities can add to your cost of living.

3. Should I consider my home as a significant part of my retirement nest egg? Many people view their homes as a good retirement investment and make that part of retirement planning. But keep in mind that it's a fixed asset and if you're still living there it isn't generating income. Approximately 30% of home equity can potentially be used as part of a retirement plan if you do plan to sell and downsize or move to a different town, but housing prices fluctuate too much to really use it as a guaranteed investment and carrying costs can be high and continue to rise. It can be part of your plan, but don't count on it to be a guaranteed amount.

4. Do I have the right financial plan in place to ensure my dream retirement? A financial plan is never written in stone. Based on your current life situation, your plan needs to be continually updated to ensure it fits with your current lifestyle. By working with a trusted financial advisor, you can be assured that you have a tailored plan in place.

“My rule of thumb is to treat your financial plan like you would your yearly physical,” says Finnie. “Make it a priority to meet with your financial planner at least once a year to discuss any life changes that will impact your goals and also to assess if your financial portfolio contains the right investment mix to meet your needs.”

Retirement is a goal you have worked your entire life to enjoy. Working with a trusted financial advisor at you local Meridian branch can help you evaluate your financial options and find a retirement plan that's custom built for you. More information is available online at


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