How you can get ready to retire

The incredible demands of your job, especially during the pandemic, may have you thinking more about your future these days. If retirement is increasingly top of mind, but you aren't sure exactly if, when or how to retire, there are steps you can take to help you assess your finances to better determine the right time for you.

Start by understanding how much income you'll need:

  • Use your current monthly expenses as a guide—factor in rent or mortgage (including property taxes), utilities, groceries and miscellaneous expenses.
  • Account for healthcare—you know better than anyone how expensive that can be. If you're thinking about retiring before age 65, Medicare is generally unavailable, so be sure to account for the cost of continued coverage.
  • Factor in inflation—it's impossible to predict how the cost of living will increase, but today’s low inflation rates won't last forever. Plan for a 3% rise annually for the next 10 to 15 years.

Then add up your prospective income sources, including:

  • Social Security
  • Pensions
  • AnnuitiesOther
  • investments

Can you set a date?

Social Security will likely be a key source of your future income and should be one of the top considerations as you think about your timing. Go to SSA.govOpens in a new window  to estimate your payments. Typically, the longer you wait to claim, the larger your payment will be. Keep in mind:

  • It's generally better to wait to collect Social Security until your "full retirement age" of 66 or 67, determined by your birthdate. If you claim earlier, your payment will be lower.
  • If you hold off to age 70, you can usually maximize your monthly payments.
  • Look at your other savings, such as a pension or annuity income, to help you bridge the gap so you can delay taking Social Security.

As you piece together your income plan, be aware that you can convert a lump sum of money—such as IRA, 401(k) or 403(b) balances—into lifetime income. Like Social Security, lifetime income can provide a steady stream of regular guaranteed payments.1

If you can generate enough income from Social Security, pensions, lifetime income and investments to cover your basic expenses, you probably can retire soon.

Before you decide

There are a few other factors to consider:

Debt. Even if you have adequate income, high-interest payments can eat into your future income. It may be better to work another year or two to pay it down.

Investments. You may want to reconsider your mix of stocks, bonds or other investments. Each has its own level of risk and anticipated return,2 and you'll want to focus on protecting your savings, not just potential growth.

Readiness. Retirement is a big adjustment. You may want to look for opportunities to "try it on." Perhaps you can explore reduced shifts, working part time or in less physically demanding jobs in healthcare before you actually commit.

You're not alone

Having a financial plan can give you confidence now and when you do retire. Schedule a meeting with a TIAA financial consultant virtually or by phone at 800-732-8353 to help you run the numbers and make any needed changes to build a plan that's right for you. 


Take action

Invest in your financial well-being

Schedule a call

Set up a meeting virtually or by phone.

Attend a webinar

Register for one of the sessions on key financial topics.

Get more guidance

Explore other topics that matter most to healthcare workers.

1 Any guarantees are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuing company.

It is important to keep in mind that there is no guarantee that asset allocation reduces risk or increases returns. It is possible to lose money when investing.

This material is for informational or educational purposes only and does not constitute fiduciary investment advice under ERISA, a securities recommendation under all securities laws, or an insurance product recommendation under state insurance laws or regulations. This material does not take into account any specific objectives or circumstances of any particular investor, or suggest any specific course of action. Investment decisions should be made based on the investor’s own objectives and circumstances.

Please note that TIAA is not responsible for the content or privacy policies of third-party sites that may be referenced in this material or to which you may link from this material. TIAA does not endorse or recommend the products, services or information found on any third-party site.