The Pre-Retirement Checklist

Getting ready for retirement? Before you can cross that bridge, you’ll need to cross some important items off your to-do list. This handy checklist of ten crucial steps can help you visualize how prepared you are.

□ Retirement Budget

Understand what your income will be, and how you can confidently spend the money you have accumulated for retirement.

□ Emergency Savings

Prepare for emergencies by saving at least 3 months’ living expenses, and have that money easily available to you.

□ Tax Strategy

Have a sound tax strategy to guide you through the process of spending money from both taxable and tax-deferred accounts.

□ Lifestyle and Location

Consider where you’ll live, both short- and long-term. Have a plan for funding a move and understand the timing involved.

□ 401(k) Strategy

Have a strategy for your 401(k) plan and determine the best time for you to access the money, based on your goals.1

□ Bucket List

Write down your personal goals for your retirement years. Explore your dreams, priorities and values.

□ Extended Care

Make arrangements in the event that you or a loved one encounters a health issue requiring full-time care.

□ Estate Strategy

Develop an estate approach that includes how you want your assets to be allocated, and who will handle your estate.

□ Health Insurance

Understand your options with Medicare and define a strategy for covering health care expenses for the long haul.

□ Social Security Strategy

Have a sound tax strategy to guide you through the process of spending money from both taxable and tax-deferred accounts.

If you’re not as prepared for retirement as you’d like to be, just reach out to a financial professional. Together, you can fine-tune these strategies so you can finish your checklist and get started on that bucket list.

1. Distributions from 401(k) plans and most other employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

5 Places to Move to if Trump Becomes President

Every election cycle, we hear about U.S. citizens who say that they will leave the country if a particular candidate becomes president. Their reasons and status may vary widely from election to election.

“In 2004 people moved to Boquete (Panama) because they disliked George Bush and had money, while in 2008 people moved to Boquete because they disliked Barack Obama and had no money,” said Phil McGuigan, who moved from the U.S. to Boquete, a popular expat community, albeit for non-political reasons.

It’s difficult to know which candidate would cause the largest overseas migration, although we can get some idea via a Google search of “Move abroad if [fill in the blank] is elected.” Here are the hits Google generated for each candidate:

  • Donald Trump: 316,000
  • Hilary Clinton: 292,000
  • Bernie Sanders: 241,000
  • Ted Cruz: 233,000

While the volatile Trump and controversial Clinton stir the strongest response, Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz are not that far behind.

While there is no credible data on how many Americans move overseas primarily for political reasons, the evidence suggests that an increasing number are moving abroad. Their motives probably differ.

According to the United Nations Secretariat, as of 1999, about 4.3 million U.S. citizens lived outside the U.S., while according to a more recent brochure published by the U.S. State Department, in May 2015, that number was 8.7 million.

Which location would be best for you if you didn’t like an electoral outcome? Here’s are five countries that offer a great quality of life at reasonable prices.


Susan Leggett/Alamy

Panama has several established, large expat communities, such as Boquete, with its famous springlike temperatures year-round, and beach town Coronado, which is about 90 minutes from Panama City.

Panama has experienced solid economic growth for more than a decade, and in many areas is not a third world country. It has a stable democracy, it’s easy to start a business in Panama, the U.S. dollar is the legal currency, and Panama City has emerged as a sophisticated, international trading hub that many compare to Miami. It also has world-class health care at generally less than half the cost of the US.

Panama has an attractive visa and discount program for retirees, for which it is easy to qualify. The country is welcoming.

Although Spanish is the official language of Panama, if you don’t speak Spanish, you can get by with English in daily life in many of the better-known areas. Also, Panama is close to the U.S., just 2 ½ hours from Miami and five hours from New York by plane. So if you want to visit friends and relatives, you can get to the U.S. quickly.


Belize City, Belize:  
Kevin Schafer/Corbis

If you want to move to a beautiful, laid-back, English-speaking country with British Common Law and a Caribbean vibe, Belize may be a good choice.

The best-known expat locations are San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, a world-famous tourist destination where the inhabitants drive around on golf carts; Placencia, an up-and-coming town with beautiful beaches; and the Cayo District, with it’s jungles, famous open-air market and lower cost of living.

Belize also has an attractive retirement program under which you can import household goods without paying an import fee.

One downside: If you’re looking for world-class shopping like there is in Panama, Belize is not for you. There’s not a single shopping mall in the country. Like Panama, Belize is very close to the U.S., a little more than two hours by plane to Miami.


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If European charm with great weather and low prices is your style, you may want to consider the Algarve region, located on the southern edge of Portugal on the Atlantic Ocean.

While there are not yet a lot of Americans there, the Algarve has become a popular expat location for Brits, so you would have many English-speaking neighbors. The Algarve has charming, little villages, lots of golf courses, goodamenities and great food, particularly if you like fish, and wine.

Starting a business in Portugal or finding a job in Portugal would be difficult,although not impossible in certain circumstances. You are geographically close to Spain. Seville, is only 125 miles away, and you are little more than a two-hour flight from other European locations. According to Luis da Silva, in the Algarve, you can get by without speaking Portuguese. “I have English friends who have been in the Algarve for 22 years and don’t speak a word of Portuguese,” according to da Silva.


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While it doesn’t have a large expat population, Nicaragua is becoming an interesting choice for American and Canadian expats, and has a lot to offer at a low cost of living.

Although nominally a Socialist country, North American expats tell us that, by and large, the government stays out of their business, even to the extent that many expats reported that they had more daily freedom in Nicaragua than in the U.S. They also tell us that Nicaragua is safe. It has escaped its turbulent past when the country was a battleground between communist and pro-democracy forces.

Expat Mike Cobb said: “Reality is very different from the perception. Cobb said that “the United Nations Development Program in 2013 had rated Nicaragua as the second safest country in Latin America only after Chile.”

The better-known expat areas of Nicaragua include the colonial city of Granada, which was founded in 1524 on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, and the tourist, fishing and surfing town of San Juan del Sur on the Pacific Ocean. Nicaragua also has several large developments, including Gran Pacifica, which has over three miles of pristine private beachfront property, a nine-hole golf course, and the feel of small-town Americana in the 1950s.


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If not for concerns about crime, Mexico would be an obvious choice for many Americans because of its many advantages:

  • Geographically, it’s next door to the U.S.
  • The cost of living is substantially less than in the U.S.
  • U.S.-quality healthcare is available in the major metropolitan areas and inexpensive. Many expats said that the healthcare they received in Mexico was equal to, and in many cases, superior to the healthcare they received in the U.S., and at low prices.
  • You can choose your weather by elevation and geography. Temperatures are in the mid-70s to 80’s year-round in the towns of Lake Chapala/Ajijic and San Miguel de Allende. They are warmer in famous tourist and expat locations like Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and areas in the Yucatan Peninsula, including Cancun.

Expats advise taking some common-sense precautions to avoid crime. They say it’s best to stay out of remote and dangerous areas at night and to avoid any contact with drug-related activities.

Mexico is generally safe for American expats, with some areas much safer per capita than in the U.S. For example, the homicide rate in the state of Yucatan, which contains the colonial city of Merida, with over a million inhabitants, is about the same as Maine, half that of West Virginia, and only a quarter that of Washington, D.C. So, if Washington D.C. is driving you out of the U.S., you can live in Merida at a price that is substantially less.

You’ll also be safer and have access to better beaches.

Written by Chuck Bolotin of The Street

(Source: The Street)