3 resolutions for 2019 if you're retired

Resolve to manage taxes, invest for the future, and plan for the unexpected.

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Key takeaways

  • Manage taxes to help keep more of your money.
  • Review your investment mix.
  • Plan for the unexpected.

Now that you're retired, or nearly there, you may find that you need to pay even more attention to your finances than you did when you were working. After all, your savings may need to get you through decades of retirement. To help keep a handle on things, consider setting some New Year's resolutions.

Saving more money in 2019 is the top goal for most resolutioners according to Fidelity's 10th annual New Year Financial Resolutions Study.1

It can be hard to stick to resolutions—1 in 5 baby boomers surveyed say they weren't able to stick to their financial resolutions last year. The number one reason? Unexpected expenses derailed their plans.

To save money, keep your retirement on track, and prepare for emergencies, here are 3 financial resolutions to consider for 2019.

Manage taxes

Thinking strategically about your withdrawals from savings could help you save money on taxes. If you are over age 70½, you'll generally have to take annual required minimum distributions (RMDs) from tax-deferred retirement accounts like traditional 401(k)s and IRAs and pay taxes on those withdrawals.

But when it comes to withdrawals beyond RMDs, it can help if you're able to choose which account to draw from—and when. It generally makes sense to withdraw first from taxable accounts, like a brokerage or bank account, followed by tax-deferred accounts, such as a traditional IRA or 401(k). Tax-exempt accounts—Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s—should come last, which allows your savings to grow tax-deferred as long as possible.

Another withdrawal strategy may help you manage your tax bill. For example, depending on your tax situation, you may want to limit your withdrawals from taxable and tax-deferred accounts to an amount that brings your taxable income to the top of your current tax bracket, and then cover any remaining income needs from your tax-exempt accounts, such as Roth accounts, to avoid being bumped into a higher tax bracket.2 This strategy can be complex, however, so be sure to consult your tax advisor.

Read Viewpoints on Fidelity.com: 3 ways to manage your retirement withdrawals

Review your investment mix

Retirement can last a long time, and investing too conservatively can be as risky as being too aggressive.

An overly cautious approach can result in the spending power of your money being too exposed to erosion by inflation. This approach can also limit the long-term upside potential that diversified stock investments can offer, and possibly diminish how long your money may last. On the other hand, being too aggressive can bring excessive risk of losing money in down markets.

Strike a balance this year. Consider resolving to review your investment mix, and make sure it offers growth potential to meet your goals through a retirement that may last multiple decades. Be sure to think about your risk tolerance and make sure you're comfortable with the increased risk that may come with stocks—it's a balancing act.

Plan for the unexpected

It's important to plan for contingencies so that you can live and age well in retirement. This means planning your withdrawals so that your savings will last throughout retirement, being prepared for health care costs, and estate planning.

Determining a sustainable withdrawal rate early in retirement is important in helping your savings last throughout your life. In general, consider withdrawing no more than 4% to 5% of your savings in the first year of retirement, and then adjusting the amount every year for inflation.

Deciding the best rate of withdrawal for your situation can be complicated. Consider speaking with a financial advisor.

Read Viewpoints on Fidelity.com: How can I make my retirement savings last?

Resolve to make this the year you put plans in place for your savings, your health and wellness, and your end-of-life plans and wishes. Estate planning isn’t just for the old or rich. A basic plan includes a will and instructions for what happens if you become incapacitated. Naming a health care proxy, establishing a "living will" regarding end-of-life medical care, and naming a power of attorney can help your loved ones understand your wishes. Adding or updating beneficiaries on your IRAs or other retirement accounts is important because these accounts transfer directly to the named beneficiaries outside of the estate and probate process.

Read Viewpoints on Fidelity.com: An all-in-one wealth transfer checklist

Make a resolution and stick to it

Prior surveys suggest that people who kept their resolutions throughout the year strengthened their new habits with a few tricks. Breaking down their goals into attainable milestones made big goals more manageable. Then, tracking their progress helped people see how far they had come—and encouraged them to stick with their plans.

Deciding to take control of your finances and taking small, consistent steps toward your goals could help you feel better—and more importantly, set you up for a successful 2019 and beyond.

Next steps to consider

Track required minimum distributions from your accounts.

Create a retirement income plan in our Planning & Guidance Center.

Make managing your finances easier and less expensive.

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