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The New York Times Five Year Retirement Plan

If you’re about five years out from retirement and break into a cold sweat when you think about what your future holds, it seems that you’re not alone.

Have I saved enough? Should I downsize? Can I even afford to retire?

The New York Times offers answers with its “Countdown to Retirement: A Five-Year Plan” (

The story acknowledges pre-retirees’ fear and provides the steps you can take year-by-year during the five years preceding retirement to ensure that you’re ready for the transition.

With five years to go, for example, your first, most daunting step is taking a hard look at your finances–savings, asset allocation, future income, and so forth, and running what-if scenarios.

At the four-year mark, you may want to consider your future living arrangements for later in retirement. Investigate retirement communities. See what you like, get a feel for a community’s costs, and see how easily you can move from independent to assisted living as your needs change.

Three years out, consider what your day-to-day life will entail. That is, what will you do all day? Think about housing again. Will you downsize or stay in your current home? If you’re going to sell your house, what upgrades will it need? What needs to be done if you’d like to stay there as you age? It’s best to take on such projects while you still have a salary.

Two years before retirement is another good time to closely eye your financing and consider some financial maneuvering—perhaps converting a tax-deferred I.R.A. into a Roth I.R.A. and practicing living on a reduced salary, for example.

Exploring Medicare, making tweaks to your investment portfolio, and ensuring that you have cash for your living expenses are all things to do in that final year.

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