We always say that the earlier you begin your retirement planning, the better. Having said that, a lot of people simply don’t think about retirement until the time gets closer. If you’re hoping to retire within the next decade or so, take these four steps now to increase your readiness.

Calculate how much retirement income is needed. How will your lifestyle stay the same in retirement, and how will it be different? Many people can safely assume that they will need to generate about 80 percent of their pre-retirement income after they stop working, but that figure might or might not work for you. Either way, you need an accurate estimate of your future budget.

Calculate your expected Social Security benefits. What would your benefits check look like if you retired right now? You can work with a financial advisor or create an online account at SocialSecurity.gov to calculate your expected benefits. Of course, you are likely to earn more in the next ten years, and Social Security does issue periodic cost of living adjustments, so this figure is likely to grow.

Calculate your withdrawal schedule to see where you stand. For many of us, retirement income will be at least partially derived from annual withdrawals from a retirement plan. According to the “four percent rule”, you can withdraw four percent of your retirement account balance each year, and the money should last for thirty years.

You could also multiply your target annual retirement income by 25, and the resulting sum represents your retirement savings goal.

Consider adjustments to your investment strategy. Many of us accept a certain amount of risk when we’re younger, and we might make more aggressive (and risky) investments. But as you get closer to your target retirement date, it might be wise to shift into a more conservative, lower-risk strategy.

We can help you evaluate all of these points and create a strategy to retire on the timeline you choose. Let’s meet in person to discuss your exact details, and together we’ll set a target retirement date.