This Is the No. 1 Financial Priority for Retirees

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Many of us spend decades building up the savings we need to get through retirement. Then what?

The 2022 Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute explores the top financial planning priorities among current retirees, among other topics.

Here’s a look at the top financial priorities for today’s retirees (other than managing day-to-day finances).

1. Planning for future health and long-term care needs

Senior man with his doctor
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Retirees who cite this as a top longer-term financial planning priority: 48%

Almost half of the retirees surveyed are prioritizing health spending. Nearly 2 in 5 retirees find health and dental expenses higher than expected, according to EBRI.

For those it applied to, 1 in 5 said the same about long-term care. As we explain in “Should I Buy Long-Term Care Insurance,” the annual cost of nursing home care can top $100,000.

2. Saving and investing for retirement

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Retirees who cite this as a top longer-term financial planning priority: 32%

Many retirees continue trying to squeeze more out of their savings, but investing in retirement requires taking fewer risks. You may not have time to recover from too big of a fall, and nobody can know for sure when one’s coming.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options, some of which we lay out in “6 Safe and Smart Investments for Retirees.”

3. Being able to leave an inheritance (tie)

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Retirees who cite this as a top longer-term financial planning priority: 31%

Some retirees are as concerned about what happens after they’re gone as they are with what happens right now. Leaving an inheritance tied for the third-highest priority among those surveyed.

One factor to consider is taxes. Check out “17 States With Inheritance or Estate Taxes — or Both” to see what you might have to worry about.

3. Developing a strategy for drawing income in retirement (tie)

Senior woman counting cash
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Retirees who cite this as a top longer-term financial planning priority: 31%

Determining how to withdraw money from retirement funds without the financial well running dry is naturally a key priority among retirees, too.

It can be easier to take money from accounts if you also still have money coming in. Some ways to do this might be investing in stocks that pay dividends, renting out rooms in your home or finding a passive income revenue stream.

5. Creating a will, trust or estate plan

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Retirees who cite this as a top longer-term financial planning priority: 27%

Neglecting this important task could cause hassles ranging from family squabbles to legal issues for your loved ones. Consider these “8 Documents That Are Essential to Planning Your Estate.”

6. Developing a strategy for reducing debt

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Retirees who cite this as a top longer-term financial planning priority: 22%

In an ideal world, everyone would enter retirement debt-free. That doesn’t always happen — and sometimes it shouldn’t, as we explain in “7 Times You Should Not Pay Off a Mortgage Before Retiring.”

But be wary: Without an ongoing source of income, debt can eat into your quality of life.

7. Planning for charitable giving

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Retirees who cite this as a top longer-term financial planning priority: 11%

Leaving a legacy behind can mean more than just helping your family. Some retirees prioritize their favorite charity.

There can be financial benefits to thinking of others too, such as tax benefits.

8. Purchasing life insurance

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Retirees who cite this as a top longer-term financial planning priority: 7%

Life insurance can help accomplish some of the earlier mentioned priorities, including charitable donations, paying off debt, and leaving an inheritance.

If you already have it, great. If not, it may not make sense to purchase in retirement. For more, check out what Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has to say in “Which Is Better: Term or Whole Life Insurance?

9. Purchasing a home

Happy older couple in front of a home they bought or sold
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Retirees who cite this as a top longer-term financial planning priority: 6%

Buying a house in retirement may be an opportunity to live in the place of your dreams, to be closer to family or better health care, or simply to downsize and save money. If you plan to go this route, we lay out some of what you need to consider in “6 Things You Should Know About Buying a Home in Retirement.”

10. Finding/engaging a personal financial adviser

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Retirees who cite this as a top longer-term financial planning priority: 3%

Money missteps are rarely more daunting than in retirement. That helps explain why more than a third of workers and retirees work with a financial adviser, according to EBRI’s survey.

Finding a reliable adviser who won’t charge excessive fees can be a challenge. Visit the Money Talks News Solutions Center to find a great financial adviser.

11. Saving for a child’s education (tie)

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Retirees who cite this as a top longer-term financial planning priority: 2%

Setting aside money for college and saving for retirement can often be competing priorities, but it is often best to put yourself first.

If you have the money to spare, however, you can help with college expenses even before retirement. The IRS allows for early distributions from IRAs for qualified education expenses for yourself, your spouse, your children or grandchildren.

11. Starting a business (tie)

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Retirees who cite this as a top longer-term financial planning priority: 2%

For some, retirement is a misnomer — they end one career only to start another on their own terms. People as old as 68 have founded what have become billion-dollar companies, according to CNBC.

13. Establishing/growing a family

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Retirees who cite this as a top longer-term financial planning priority: Less than 0.5%

This is the smallest specific priority in EBRI’s study, although 16% answered “other.” Nonetheless, some people look at retirement as the time to have kids or adopt them. Becoming a parent at this age does mean you have more financial stability and maturity than many.

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