The First Step before Withdrawal

Five essential questions to ask yourself before you tap retirement savings.


Retirement and all of the wonderful events and experiences that come with it is a culmination of a lifetime of hard work, careful planning, and diligent saving. But while the act of retirement exists in many shapes and forms, your financial journey during retirement starts with one simple step: withdrawing money from retirement savings.

Taking your first withdrawal is a crucial moment in your retirement and shouldn’t be taken lightly. In conjunction with a financial professional, you should ask yourself five key questions before you take that first step.

1) When should I begin withdrawing?

The question of when to begin withdrawals is one of the most crucial choices you can make. Oftentimes you may have a withdrawal date already planned out, but sometimes life doesn’t always cooperate with your plans. Taking withdrawal too early can make it more difficult to stick by your retirement plan, and may increase your chances of having fewer resources as you get older. Make sure you and your financial professional have a contingency plan prepared. Don’t just rely on one withdrawal date.

2) Do I have a solid plan?

Taking all of the market and tax considerations into account when withdrawing from your accounts is vital to keeping a solid financial balance in retirement. Your financial professional probably knows which accounts you’ll withdraw from first, but do you? Are you informed about the strategy involving which accounts you’ll withdraw from and when? And is your spouse involved?

3) Am I ever really going to stop working?

Let’s face it: you’ve worked hard your entire life. Many people who retire after a long career, but don’t have adequate hobbies or activities, eventually get bored and end up returning to work. And some don’t stop working at all, or they just work a bit less. Making sure that your financial professional is aware of your plans, or even the possibility of a return to work, is important to your withdrawal plan. Any extra income can make a difference in what accounts you withdraw from and when you do so.

4) How will my withdrawals interact with my lifestyle and leisure?

Are your withdrawals going to provide you with enough income to travel? And what about your other hobbies and plans? Making sure your withdrawals allow you to continue living the same lifestyle in retirement is vitally important. Do you feel like your income will be adequate for you to enjoy life? And if not, have you discussed it with your financial professional?

5) What about unexpected medical costs?

It’s no secret that the cost of healthcare in America has skyrocketed. Being prepared for the increasing costs and the possibility of emergency care are two more key factors to consider before withdrawing from your nest egg. Health insurance is often not enough, and long term care insurance coverage should be considered as an added way to protect you from financial loss relating to healthcare.

These are just five basic questions to ask yourself before you tap your retirement savings. Many of them may have already been covered by your financial professional, but it’s always helpful to be informed and prepared on your own as well. The sooner you’re prepared for retirement, the sooner you can decide what you want to do for the rest of your life.