We start this month by celebrating our nation’s Independence Day and treasuring liberty fought for by our founding fathers.

Independence is something we value in our personal lives. That includes gaining financial independence and maintaining it to the greatest degree possible as we age in retirement.

Financial planning for retirement is not easy, nor is making adjustments as circumstances change during retirement. That’s why laymen are best off in both cases to get help from a reputable and professional financial adviser.

Our company has worked with a local professional. Her office offers a comprehensive retirement planning checklist to help get started with details before talking with an adviser.

Here are a few checklist items:

  • Take stock of your income, expenses, assets and other financial obligations.
  • Work with a financial adviser to identify a specific goal for the amount of savings you want to have.
  • Ramp up your retirement plan contributions and savings as much as possible, if you’re still a few years from retiring.
  • Work to pay off debts.
  • Estimate income by calculating your Social Security benefits – visit www.ssa.gov to do that – and any pensions or other government benefits.
  • Think about when you’d like to retire, since retiring early or late impacts your Social Security payment amounts.
  • To put your plan into action, learn withdrawal and contribution requirements of any available retirement plans.
  • Enroll in Medicare three months before you turn 65, and look into Medicare supplemental insurance.
  • If you plan to retire before age 65, review options for covering your health care.
  • Find out online if you qualify for other benefits, such as payments for medications, health care or utilities by visiting www.benefitscheckup.org

While those are some highlights, there are many more twists and considerations for your retirement planning. To get a more detailed report sent to you, call Home Helpers of the Lowcountry at 843-837-3041.

You might want to consider living and care arrangements. Assess your various residential and care options – medical and nonmedical – to get an idea of costs you might incur. This includes life expectancy and healthcare calculations based on family and personal history.

It is a good idea to let family members know your preferences so they are in a position to carry out your wishes when changes are needed.

Consider reviewing your retirement plans or circumstances every few years, or sooner based on changes in your life.

Keep exercising your independence.

Debbie Morris, MA, EdS, is CEO of Home Helpers Home Care and Home Health. help@homehelperslowcountry.com; www.inhomecarelowcountry.com