Pre-Retirement Playbook

A step-by-step guide to help you prepare for retirement.

For some, retirement can be exciting. For others, it can be just a big change. Organized in a helpful timeline, this guide contains a list of actions you can take in the months preceding your retirement to help you maximize your benefits and prepare for this life event.

Your retirement will be here before you know it. Let this guide help you reap the rewards of this important and wonderful milestone.


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Get a head start.

There is a lot to do in the months leading up to retirement. To make sure your plan goes smoothly, talk to a Participant Services Representative at 800-724-7526.


12 Months Before

Take stock of your goals.

Do you want to travel or volunteer? With savings in place, you can explore specific programs and organizations.

Start talking.

Share your goals with your spouse, partner, or other family members. If your ideas differ, this is a great time to look at ways to compromise.

Max out your 401(k).

If it's feasible, this might be a good time to consider maxing out your 401(k) and tax-advantaged savings account contributions to help boost your long-term security.*

Get health care squared away.

If you're planning to use Medicare, you should know that there's a seven-month enrollment window around your 65th birthday. Once you have Medicare established, you can determine if you'll need additional insurance coverage.

Estimated savings

9 Months Before

Know your income.

Calculate your Social Security, payout and other potential income sources. If you have a pension, you may need to decide if you're going to take a lump-sum distribution or an annuity.

Create a cash fund.

In addition to the income above, it's a good idea to keep enough cash in a bank account to cover 12 months of expenses, apart from your retirement plan account.

Recalibrate investments.

It's generally a good idea to take a more conservative investing approach as you get closer to retirement. You should consider rebalancing your current allocation, if necessary, as you transition into retirement.

Talk to a Participant Services Representative at 800-724-7526.

Inflation adjusted increase

6 Months Before

Map out expenses.

Once you have established your retirement income, it's a good idea to map out your living expenses in retirement to make sure your estimated income and expenses align.

Test-drive a tax return.

If you fill out a hypothetical tax return based on your first retirement year, you may decide to maximize deductions now while your income is higher.

Average Percentage of annual income

3 Months Before

Meet with Human Resources.

It's time to learn more about distribution options and get contact information for any questions you may have after you retire.

Decide on a Social Security start date.

If you'd like benefits as soon as you retire, you should consider signing up now at a local Social Security office. You can find locations online at, or by calling 800-772-1213.

Percentage of retirees who prioritize

2 Months Before

Choose whether to roll over your 401(k).

Choose your rollover options. You can roll over your 401(k) into an IRA, you can keep your 401(k) in your current plan, or you can cash out your 401(k) (which may incur taxes and penalties).

Mark the start.

If you have accrued paid time off, you should check your company policy to maximize your benefits when you retire.

Percentage of workers age 60 or older

1 Month Before

Double-check everything.

Although you may have already signed up for Social Security and Medicare, this is the time for a final check to make sure all your accounts are in order.

Plan the big day.

Many people nearing retirement anticipate a life with less stress and healthier habits. It's a good idea to pencil in new routines now so you can get the most from the days ahead.

Percentage of retirees who say preparing for retirement made them feel less stressed

Saving enough? Let's find out.

Saving enough? Let's find out.

Use the Retirement Savings Calculator for a quick snapshot of where you stand today and what you can do next to prepare for retirement.


(0920-01C4) (09/20)

The annual 401(k) deferral limits are available at

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax, legal, or investment planning advice. Where specific advice is necessary or appropriate, you should consult with a qualified tax advisor, CPA, financial planner, or investment manager.

This example is hypothetical and provided for illustrative purposes only. It is not intended to represent any specific investment products and not intended to be reflective of results you can expect to achieve.

Schwab Retirement Plan Services, Inc. provides recordkeeping and related services with respect to retirement plans and has provided this communication to
you as part of the recordkeeping services it provides to the Plan.

This site is designed for U.S. residents. Non-U.S. residents are subject to country-specific restrictions. Learn more about our services for non-U.S. residents.

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