While some people dream of an early retirement at age 60, and others are determined to work well into their 70s, the fact of the matter is that turning 65 is a watershed moment for most Americans. Regardless of when you retire, age 65 is the year when you are first eligible for Medicare. You’re also approaching what the government considers to be your “full retirement age,” that is, the age when you’re eligible to receive your full Social Security benefits.

This critical moment isn’t without its stressors. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of financial steps you should take before you reach age 65.

1. Research your family’s health history

This may not seem like a “financial” step, but it is—and it’s a big one. Because your longevity impacts how much you’ll need to save in order to make your nest egg last. With healthy Americans living into their mid- to late-80s, on average, you’ll need to plan for a lengthy retirement. If your family has a history of battling illness or disease late in life, consider the fact that these health care issues are often quite costly. You’ll want to create a special plan to address health care costs so that you don’t leave your partner or family unsupported.

2. Determine when you will take Social Security

While traditional wisdom encourages people to wait as long as possible to begin claiming their Social Security benefits, this should not be considered a one-size-fits-all approach. There are hundreds of strategies when it comes to claiming Social Security; consult with a financial professional before you commit to your Social Security start date. Once you begin, the decision is essentially irreversible.

3. Familiarize yourself with Medicare

This government-sponsored system, created to help alleviate some of the stress of paying for health care in retirement, is very complex. And for some people, it comes as a shock to realize that it isn’t free. Know what services are covered by which part, which parts you’ll need to pay premiums for, and how these premiums are determined.

4. Establish a withdrawal strategy

Living without a regular paycheck can be a tough adjustment for some people. Without that monthly figure coming in, it’s much harder to determine how much you can “safely” spend, but it is doable with some math and forecasting. The amount you can safely withdraw will likely change on a year-to-year basis, depending on market conditions and when other sources of income kick in. Determining this amount ahead of time (and reforecasting on a regular basis) will reduce the likelihood of you overspending—or feeling guilty about spending—because you’ll have already allotted that portion in your budget.

5. Meet with a financial advisor

Even if you’ve always been reluctant to meet with an advisor, this is such a critical point in your life that you’ll likely benefit from getting an objective opinion about your financial plan. A good advisor will point out gaps and opportunities for improvement. At the very least, you should leave this meeting with a more confident outlook: Either the advisor has confirmed that you’re on a path to financial success, or they’ve offered specific suggestions to help you get back on track.

The year you turn 65 is a major milestone, financially. Follow these five steps before you get there, and you may be well on your way to a more financially sound retirement.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Andrew Thelander

Andrew Thelander

Senior Vice President, Financial Advisor

CFP®, RICP®, CAP®, MBA, Series 7 Securities Registration,1 Series 66 Advisory Registration,† Insurance License Andrew is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and Retirement Income Certified Professional®, who has been with Wealth Enhancement Group since 2007. His love of learning and for helping clients achieve clarity in their financial lives is evident within his approach to thoughtfully understanding each client’s individual...Read More