After working faithfully for decades, the golden years of retirement loom just ahead. Foresight and planning can make all the difference in ensuring a smooth transition and preparation for the unexpected. Here are some moves to make before stepping away from the workplace.

Make Retirement Budget
Income will probably decrease significantly upon retirement. At the same time, at least some expenses will diminish or dissipate. Before walking away from the workplace, draw up a budget including projected retirement income and expenses. This will indicate the feasibility of retirement plans more clearly.

Check the Stash
It is crucial to estimate how much retirement income will be required. Ideally, it will come from a pension, Social Security benefits, savings, and investments. One should be able to withdraw around 4% of sources annually without running out of money. Adding this to expected Social Security income, determine if there will be enough income for the retirement lifestyle one desires. If not, one may need to work a little longer or explore ways to produce other income streams.

When to File for Social Security
Social Security benefits will be based on earnings. The payout will depend on the age at which one files for the benefits. One may file between 62 and 70 years of age and claim the full monthly benefit at full retirement age (FRA). Those who file before FRA will not receive as much, but postponing collecting Social Security past FRA will increase payments by 8% each year past FRA up to age 70.

Consider how significant Social Security benefits will be while deciding when to claim them. If savings, pension and investments form the bulk of the retirement nest egg, one may choose to file early for Social Security benefits to enjoy the extra money sooner. However, if Social Security will be a major retirement income source, it may be best to put off filing until reaching FRA or beyond.

Secure Health Care Coverage
Workers who wait until at least 65 to retire can receive Medicare coverage. Otherwise, they will need to secure their own health insurance through the open market or COBRA. Consider purchasing a Medicare Advantage plan to cover services not covered by Medicare.

What to Do with All That Time
Time is a valuable currency, too. Consider how to use the newfound abundance of time to pursue interests, promote causes, tend to needs, and whatever gives a sense of purpose and fulfilment. Staying active and engaged with others will stave off boredom, helplessness, depression.