January Is Nearly Over. Have You Done Your Retirement Review?

While 2024 is still new, assessing where you stand in some key areas of personal finance can help smooth the transition to your later years.

The crash diets have crashed, the brand-new budgets won’t budge and your Peloton is now the world’s most expensive laundry rack. But even if every one of your New Year’s resolutions is toast, there’s still one start-of-the-year chore you would be wise to handle: your retirement review.

This is a perfect time to take stock of where your retirement is heading — whether you’re still on the job or have stopped working and are now collecting Social Security — financial planners say. It gives you a full year of investment returns and personal spending to review, as well as a momentarily fresh perspective on how you want to spend the last phase of your life, and the costs that go with it.

One study, from the Journal of Clinical Psychology, estimates that about 116 million American adults make New Year’s resolutions each January but that more than half will give up on them within six months. At the same time, about four million people are expected to turn 65 this year, according to an analysis of census data by the Alliance for Lifetime Income, a nonprofit research arm of the annuity industry. Nearly all of them will need to support themselves for decades.

Whether you are still working or already retired, reviewing your retirement plan and how it’s shaping up when compared with reality is a crucial step, said Michael Crews, author of the book “Saturday Everyday” and chief executive of North Texas Wealth Management in Allen, Texas.

“Most people have never been retired, and if you’ve never been retired, the learning curve is steep,” Mr. Crews said. “People think the goal is to get to retirement, but that’s only half the goal. The goal is to get to retirement and not run out of money.”

Here are a few main areas you will want to review.

January is a good time to collect your annual reports from credit cards, as well as tax documents, any Form 1099 notices for gig workers and freelancers and, if you are paid a salary, your last pay stub of the year. This allows you to see what your after-tax income is and what you’re spending, said Bill Dendy, president of Alicorn Investment Management in Dallas.

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