Retirement Time Line (Non Federal Workers)

Retirement planning timeline

Time and time again we’re told to plan for our futures and make sure our finances are in order. It’s never too early to begin thinking about retirement, so where do you start?

15 to 20 years from retirement

It’s essential to consider your finances. Involve a professional financial planner and write down a detailed financial plan, based on your current goals and aspirations. You should also:

  • prepare a will;
  • Think of your family and consider life insurance which you can buy directly from an insurer or go through a life insurance quote from a broker to try and get the best price.
  • arrange an Enduring Power of Attorney – a formal agreement where you appoint someone to make decisions of your behalf in the event that you are unable to manage your own affairs;
  • arrange an Advance Health Directive – a document detailing instructions regarding your future health care, in case a time comes when you cannot make these decisions for yourself.

5 to 10 years from retirement

Revise your financial plans. Some considerations are:

  • how much money you will need in retirement;
  • how much money you anticipate having available;
  • determine a suitable retirement age where money available will cover the money you require;
  • retirement investments;
  • superannuation;
  • possible government pensions; and
  • tax issues.

For many people, boredom is a major issue in retirement. Plan your activities now; update any skills you may have or begin to learn something new. Can you use these skills to bring in extra income after retirement?

1 to 2 years from retirement

This is the time to review and revise your financial plan.

  • Are you on track to retire when you originally anticipated?
  • Try to plan a retirement budget and practise using it.
  • Have you cut down your hours at work? If so, you need to keep a close eye on your superannuation. Speak to your fund about any negative financial consequences of your decision.

Are you keeping active? How about joining clubs and making new friends? Do you want to travel? Begin your plans now and determine where and when you will go.

Where are you going to live in retirement? Now is the time to change your home or car, if necessary, to accommodate your changing lifestyle.

6 months from retirement

Make any final adjustments to your financial plan and budget.

  • Are you still on schedule?
  • Check your will. Is it still effective?
  • Are your Enduring Power of Attorney and Advance Health Directive still valid?
  • Obtain statements from your superannuation fund(s).
  • Review any life insurance policies you may have.

Keep up with those activities and friendships you’ve been cultivating and remember to look after your health. If necessary, get a medical check done and review your health insurance.

3 months from retirement

Using the checklist for the 6 months from retirement above, make sure your finances are in order.

Are you eligible for the aged pension?

And, finally, don’t forget to look forward to it. Retirement is your time, when you finally have the opportunity to do what you want to do.

Or By Age

Here is a retirement timeline that will help you understand some important steps in planning for your future.


Sign up for your employer’s retirement plan.

AGE 25-49

Increase your contribution rate to your employer’s retirement plan each time you receive a raise. Take advantage of online education materials and retirement calculators to see if your retirement savings are on track.

AGE 50

Begin making “catch-up” contributions to your company plan. If you are 50 or older, you can kick in extra.

AGE 59½

If your plan allows, you can now take penaltyfree withdrawals from your company retirement plan and other retirement accounts.

AGE 62

You can begin receiving Social Security benefits at a permanently reduced level.

AGE 64

You should contact Social Security three months before you turn 65 to sign up for Medicare. You should do this even if you plan to continue working or do not think you have enough work credit under Social Security because Medicare enrollment period rules are strict.

AGE 65-67

If you were born before 1959, you will reach full retirement age between 65 and 67. If you were born in 1960 or later, you will reach full retirement age at 67 and can begin to receive full Social Security retirement benefits.

AGE 70

If you have been delaying, sign up now for Social Security benefits; waiting any longer will not increase your benefits. You may be required to begin taking minimum distributions from your retirement accounts each year. (Legislation suspended minimum required distributions for 2009 for most retirement accounts). This timeline is intended to alert readers to certain milestones in the retirement planning process. However, each plan has different provisions; it is important to check with your plan administrator or human resource department about the specific rules governing your plan.


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