So you’re on the verge of retiring and you haven’t even started to create a financial strategy. Here’s a short and easy list of steps to take to help you get started.

Calculate your assets. Even if you haven’t saved much, take a few minutes to add up what you do have—pension, 401(k), savings account, investments, mattress money, etc.—and roughly project how much you think it will grow by the time you retire. It may not be much, and calculating the amount could be a cold dose of reality, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

Make some choices. After you’ve taken a hard look at what you can or cannot afford to do after you retire, you should determine what your priorities are and make a budget to guide you. We know it’s hard to accept, but you may not have the financial resources you once had anticipated having, so it’s important to know your limits and plan your future spending accordingly. If you still have a few years before the big date, you can also cut back on spending now and save a little more for later. You may also want to consider postponing your retirement a few years to get the full benefits of Social Security and to save a little more before you call it quits.

Plan for the unplanned. Over the last decade or so, many of us have been taken by surprise by an assortment of unexpected circumstances. Consider setting a little aside for emergencies within your monthly or annual budget. It never hurts to put money away for a rainy day—even in retirement. Having enough set aside to cover 3 to 6 months of your expenses ought to get you through almost anything.

Consider your health. Being aware of your health is vital to enjoying a successful retirement. More than ever, health care provisions and costs will play an important part in your life. Medicare offers some great benefits to retirees, so make sure you apply on time if you are planning to take advantage of it—applying late can result in delayed benefits and higher premiums.

Don’t be afraid to seek help. There are plenty of resources, both online and in your community, to help you better understand what you need to prepare for your retirement. Qualified financial professionals work with people in all stages of retirement planning and can help answer some of your questions.

This material is for informational purposes only. Neither New York Life nor its agents provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. Please consult your own tax, legal, or accounting professional before making any decisions.

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