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Funding Your Future

3 Essential Questions to Ponder Before You Retire

It can be both exciting and scary to consider retirement. Here are three things to think about as you plan the next phase of your financial life:

1. How much debt do you have?

Many approaching retirement still have a mortgage or student loan. If you’re one of them, make sure it doesn’t throw a wrench into your retirement plans. Take note of your pay-off dates. Make sure you weigh all options before you refinance and extend the length of your mortgage. Think carefully before you use your home equity to pay down credit card or other debt or pay for someone else’s education. Increasing the amount you owe could put your home at risk if you can’t make payments later.

2. When will you claim your Social Security retirement benefits?

After you stop working full-time, you probably will have a drop in your regular income. Social Security may be an important source of retirement income when you no longer work full-time. The age you claim Social Security affects the amount of monthly benefits you’ll receive. Though you are eligible to claim at 62, you can choose to wait – up to 70. The later you claim, the more money you get each month. The Bureau’s retirement tool can help you see how your benefit amount changes depending on what age you claim.

Sometimes we have difficulty managing our own money and property as we age. Planning ahead may help you stay in control. Thinking about it now is also useful if you’re helping your parents or other loved ones manage their finances. Check out the Bureau’s Planning for Diminished Capacity and Illness, which has good tips to help you or someone you love manage their money when the time comes. If you’re a financial caregiver or about to become one, check out the Bureau’s Managing Someone Else’s Money guides.

Whether you plan to work part-time, start a new career or spend time with family, take some time to plan and budget for the retirement you want. For more information, visit

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