Ask a CFP® Professional: How Do I Get Started Planning for Retirement? (Video)

By Ellevest Team

How do I get started planning for retirement?

Hi, I'm Rachel Sanborn, lead financial planner for Ellevest. I get this question all the time. An exercise that I make almost every client do, which is my favorite, is really simple. Just sit and imagine a day or a month in retirement for a while.

Actively start to imagine. Talk it through with a partner. Look up things you hope to do. You'll still be you, and you'll probably still have similar needs and wants.

Do you love your career and just want to step back to part time or consulting work? Or maybe, it's all about your hobbies or volunteering. Hey, maybe you'll be one of the fabulous grandmas of Instagram.

If it makes her feel more real to you, you can even give her an older person name. Mine would be Jean, but usually I just say Future Rachel.

Doing this helps in so many ways. First, it helps you understand what you want to do in retirement. Then, you can go to Ellevest. We have a Retirement on My Terms goal on our site, with tools to help guide you. We start by recommending a forecast retirement target of 90% of your pre-retirement income each year, which is a great place to start for most people.

Some other firms may recommend that you target around 70% of your pre-retirement income. That may be easier to get to, but it also means less of a cushion in investing towards your retirement, and it might look very different than what you're starting to visualize for yourself.

With our retirement goal, you fill out your financial info and we'll give you recommendations for your retirement goal targets and investment amounts. You can add in other investment goals to see how achieving those can affect how much you have for retirement. It's the only investment plan we know of that takes into account women’s longer lifespans, which is super important.

That's one reason to visualize your future self. It can give you a sense of the target amount to work toward. More than that, research shows that if you vividly imagine your future retirement, you are much more likely to save for that future self.


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The information provided should not be relied upon as investment advice or recommendations, does not constitute a solicitation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered specific legal, investment or tax advice.

The information provided does not take into account the specific objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific person.

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Ellevest Team

The Ellevest team is working to help women reach their financial and professional goals.