By John D. Doak, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner

Retirement can be a new beginning for us, but planning for your golden years can be daunting. This week is National Retirement Planning Week© (NRPW). The goal of NRPW is to promote the importance of comprehensive retirement planning.
While retirement planning was once thought of as an issue for older people, the truth is that you must start preparing for a secure future as soon as you enter the work force.
Check out this retirement checklist to help you plan for a comfortable and secure retirement.
Review Your Finances
If your workplace offers a 401(k), 403(b), ESOP, profit sharing plan, IRA or Roth IRA, you should take advantage of their plan. Many employers will match contributions up to a certain amount. The sooner you start saving, the more money you’ll have for retirement. Consider at least contributing the amount needed to obtain the employer match.
Review your finances to see how financially prepared you are for retirement. Track down and value your assets including cash, investments and anything else you can exchange for cash such as your house, savings bonds and even fine jewelry. Find the retirement accounts you have put money into throughout your career. You might want to think about consolidating some accounts so your money is easier to manage. If you decide to consolidate retirement accounts, seek advice on how to implement a rollover to avoid immediate taxation of your funds.
Assess Your Life Situation
Life insurance, like retirement, is something to consider at the beginning of your working years. Life insurance policies can provide benefits throughout life including whole life policies that build cash value. Whole life policies also allow you to take a loan, or borrow from them, but doing so does reduce the amount your beneficiaries will receive if you haven’t repaid the loan. Please note: you will pay interest on the amount you borrow. Do your research carefully to determine if such a policy is right for you at your current life stage.
Also, review your specific needs for health insurance and long-term care insurance. Your need for various coverages will change throughout your life. Insurance can help provide financial security in your retirement years if a catastrophe happens.
An annuity is a contract or policy between you, the policyholder, and an insurance company. An annuity pays a periodic (monthly, quarterly, semiannual or annual) income benefit for the life of a person (known as the annuitant). Annuities can also be purchased for a specified time period. Annuities can play an integral role in a financially secure retirement. There are four main types of annuities:
*Variable annuities with guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits: Long-term, tax-deferred insurance products that contain investment and insurance components with optional guaranteed withdrawal benefits.
*Fixed and fixed-indexed annuities: Long-term, tax-deferred insurance vehicles which offer a guaranteed minimum interest rate.
*Single premium immediate annuities products: Provide a guaranteed income for life or a specified period in exchange for a one-time lump sum payment.
*Deferred income annuities: Provide for guaranteed income but don’t begin until a specified age, such as 80 or 85.
Please note that annuities are not for everyone. Research your options thoroughly before purchasing one. Also, consider the costs associated with the annuity, such as the broker commissions.
Grow Your Nest Egg
Having a clear financial plan is important. A rule of thumb: 80 percent of your current annual income is a good amount to save up for retirement. Consider if you’ll receive a pension and Social Security and subtract that amount from your annual income. Use that number to calculate a financial plan running out to age 100 for how much you’ll need every year based on the year you retire.
Learn about investing and consider paying a certified financial planner for help. You might be keeping your money in accounts that have low rates of return and could earn more simply by moving the money.
A professional can help you invest your money for the best rate of return.
It is possible to retire on your own terms if comprehensive retirement plans are properly developed and managed. Visit for retirement resources such as a retirement calculator, basics on investing and information on how to find the right financial advisor.
For insurance information, contact the Oklahoma Insurance Department at 1-800-522-0071 or visit our website at