How To Create Your Retirement Checklist (Before You Retire)

retirement planning

Plan Today For The Life You Want To Live Tomorrow

Preparing a Retirement Checklist ahead of your retirement will be one of the smartest steps next to investing.

Having a plan in place today will help you in the future in the event of an emergency or life crisis.

Aging in place allows seniors to stay at home while utilizing various community and government services along the way.

Canadian seniors would rather live in their own homes during their retirement years although this doesn’t always happen.

To allow yourself the best possible retirement it’s important to know what you are stepping into before you get off the bus.

By this I mean have you investigated your retirement and have you crossed all your T’s and dotted all of your I’s.

Trust me when I say that it can be a hell of a ride if you haven’t and the last thing you want after retirement is to deal with red tape.

I’m far from my retirement but having just gone through 3 years of dealing with death, illness, and retirement I’ve learned quite a bit.

To be honest, it was a blessing because now we know what to expect and the relevance of a retirement checklist.

Age To Start Planning Your Retirement Checklist

As you will read further down our retirement financial checklist starts as early as our first investment.

The moment you have assets, investments, or perhaps children you should start thinking about tomorrow.

It’s not uncommon for people to get a life insurance policy at a young age either.

So you see even without thinking ahead too far we start the retirement checklist far in advance.

How far you take the retirement checklist is up to you.

Both Mrs. CBB is in our mid-40’s now and have already been plowing through the retirement checklist.

There are questions we still cannot answer however for a majority of them we feel confident that we have a plan in place.

The next step for us is to update our Will which we need to investigate and I’ll report back on that process once it’s complete.

My answer to this question is to start before you retire and not after retirement when you should be enjoying your days.

Retirement Is A Whole New World

Retirement is like a whole new world that we have to learn from scratch sort of like going to school for the first time.

If you’re working you say goodbye to your co-workers to start an adventure outside of 9-5 living.

As Canadians, we are so conditioned to save for our retirement that it becomes part of our budget, as it should be.

Above and beyond saving money for retirement living comes the planning about how to execute retirement.

Below are many of the topics I will discuss in today’s blog post not only to educate but to remind everyone of the importance of tomorrow.

Questions To Consider For Your Retirement Checklist

What kind of retirement lifestyle do I/We want to live?

Consider what you want to do during your retirement years whether it’s completing a bucket list, travelling, visiting relatives, etc.

All of these cost money and travel insurance if you plan on leaving the province or country.

Find out from your insurance company how travel insurance will be affected by age or illness.

Should I create an asset inventory?

Absolutely, and I believe everyone should have an asset inventory from financial to stuff such as vehicles, furniture, valuables, etc.

If there is a fire in your home this asset inventory will come in handy when filing your insurance claim.

When you plan to move it will help you to know what you have in your home and garage for selling purposes.

Leaving an asset inventory behind also alerts your power of attorney (POA) to what you have and where it is located.

Credit Card Tracking, Loans and Debts

Do I have a list of credit cards and loans in my name?

Yes, always keep a running list of the credit cards, loans, and debts you owe.

You’ll want to include numbers and any pertinent information that would help you or your POA in the event you are unable to care for your finances.

Related: Free Budget Binder Printables – Checklist for Credit Card Tracking

Password Storage Options

Keeper Security

Where do I store all of my passwords?

You can write your passwords in a book and store it in a fireproof safe or you can purchase an online app which is what we do.

I use the app Keeper to protect my passwords and stay safe online so I never have to worry.

Retiring With Debt

How much debt will I/we have when I retire?

Hopefully, you’ll have zero debt but for many Canadians, this is not the case.

While you can pay off debt as aggressively as you can so you have little when you do retire.

When should I/we retire?

In Canada, most people will retire at 65 although you don’t have to. Retirement age depends on whether you want to stop working or not.

Your health and that of a loved one may factor into your decision to continue working as would your financial situation.

Emergency Savings For Seniors

Should I/we still have an emergency savings fund when I/we retire?

YES. Always have an emergency savings fund.

Keep or Sell Vehicle

Will I/we need my vehicle when I retire or should I/we sell it?

This is a great question to consider. The costs of owning and maintaining a vehicle may not be in your budget.

Declining health may also put a stop to using a vehicle so it’s important to learn about transportation services in your area.

Transportation Services In Your Area

What transportation services are available for seniors in our community?

Almost every community has a city bus service, taxis, and services for seniors. Also, community churches may offer services as well through volunteers.

Community Seniors Programs

Are there any seniors programs we can get involved with and where are they located?

Get in touch with senior community services or your local city hall to direct you to programs in your area.

How much money do I need when I/we retire?

Once you create a budget for your retirement you’ll know how much you’ll need to fund the basics of living.

Factor in anything extra you want to do such as travelling, eating out more, and so forth to understand the depths of retirement money that you’ll need.

Should I/we create a retirement budget?

Yes, I believe at every stage of life we should have a budget to understand where our money is going and how much money we need to survive.

How will I/we protect ourselves from fraud?

Get in touch with local authorities to ask them about any type of fraud program for seniors that you can get involved with.

You might also talk with friends, family, and your children about how you can be protected from fraud.

For instance, if someone tells you to pay a large amount of money don’t do it until you talk to your trusted POA, or family.

Always review your credit report and credit score annually or purchase a monthly report.

Use security software on your computer to make sure you keep scammers and viruses away.

Never send money or pay for something you are not sure of. You won’t go to jail. Don’t listen to those phone scam liars.

Get your Free Credit Score and $1 Credit Report Now!

How might our eating habits change?

As we age we tend to eat less but you may want to explore different types of foods that you may not have afforded before.

Your grocery budget is variable so you can play around with it based on your eating habits when you retire.

Grocery Shopping Services For Seniors

Are there local grocery shopping services to assist with shopping?

Almost every community has someone who runs a grocery shopping service for seniors.

If grocery shopping is difficult and you still own a vehicle you could order groceries online and pick them up or have them delivered by the grocery store.

Related: Is Online Grocery Pickup Worth it?

Available Canadian Tax Credits For Seniors

Are there any tax credits that I/we may be eligible for?

Yes, there are many tax credits for Canadian seniors to look into and take advantage of come tax season.

Here are just a few you can claim:

  1. Canada Caregiver Credit: For your spouse or common-law partner, you may be entitled to claim an amount of $2,230 in the calculation. You could also claim an amount up to a maximum of $7,140.
  2. Pension Income: You may be able to claim up to $2,000 if you reported eligible pension, superannuation, or annuity payments
  3. Medical Expenses: Medical Expenses You Can Claim On Your Income Tax

Financial Advisor and Insurance Reviews

When was the last time you met with your insurance and financial advisor? (learn how to withdraw funds from your investments)

We meet with our financial advisor once a year to discuss how things are going with our investments.

Just last year we met with his team and they put together a full summary and financial plan for us based on today’s numbers.

The idea of the session was to allow us insight into how much money we could have when we come to retire at age 60, 65, or 70.

It was quite comprehensive including our current financial health based on our investment strategy.

I’d suggest talking to your advisor every year and not waiting until the year you want to retire.

What service people do I/we need to talk to before I retire?

You should decide what you want to ask these people before you set up a meeting.

When you call them you could ask if it were possible to come in and chat about retirement and how it might affect your services. (if at all).

  • Financial Advisor to advise them you are retiring and the next steps
  • Employer to let them know you’re retiring
  • Lawyer to Review Your Estate Plan
  • Bank to Review Your Banking Services, loans, credit cards
  • Power of Attorney to discuss anything of importance
  • Pension Plan Advisors or holders to discuss your work pension or other pensions

Owning A Fireproof Safe

Should I/we purchase a fire-proof safe for important documents and assets?

Yes, I think everyone should own a fireproof safe to house documents of importance such as a Will, Power of Attorney, money, jewellery, or other important items.

Estate Planning Retirement Checklist

Have I/we created a Will and Power Of Attorney? Where is your copy of the power of attorney kept?

If you are near retirement and have not created an Estate Plan I would suggest doing so.

There are many ways you can create a Will from doing it online to investing in a lawyer to help draw up your Will and Power of Attorney.

Keep a copy in your fireproof safe and the lawyer should do the same at their office if you hired one to draw up your Will.

Can I/we take the Canada Pension Plan Early?

Yes, in Canada you can take your CPP as early as age 60.

The standard age to start the pension is 65. However, you can start receiving it as early as age 60 or as late as age 70.

If you start receiving your pension earlier, the monthly amount you’ll receive will be smaller. If you decide to start later, you’ll receive a larger monthly amount.

There’s no benefit to wait after age 70 to start receiving the pension. The maximum monthly amount you can receive is reached when you turn 70. – Canada Pension Plan

Are all of my banking needs automated including government?

This is something that I feel is important especially when it comes to any banking, government cheques, or bills you have to pay.

As long as you make sure the money is in the bank account where the bills will be debited all you need to do is review them for accuracy.

When cheques are deposited directly into your bank account it saves you time and gas money going to the bank.

Also, these days you can do mobile deposits with your smartphone if you can understand the process. It’s pretty simple though.

Am I/we allowed working after age 65?

Yes, you can work after the age of 65 in Canada but will still pay into your Canada Pension Plan. You can also work while you are collecting a pension in Canada.

Your CPP contributions will go toward post-retirement benefits. These benefits will increase your retirement income when you stop working.

Would pension income splitting help lower your taxes?

Pension income splitting can help lower your taxes it also allows a spouse to give up to 50% of their eligible pension income to their spouse for tax purposes only.  – source Retire Happy

Where will I/we live when I retire and the costs involved? Downsize? Condo? Rent?

Again, these are considerations to talk about so you have a better idea of what type of dwelling you’d like to live in and at what age.

The costs and maintenance of each should be of particular relevance to the topic of discussion.

Long-Term Care Planning

What retirement living home or long-term care facility might you prefer?

If you plan to retire in the city you are currently living then tour the different retirement facilities.

Sometimes it’s nice to know where you are headed or have an idea of where you plan to apply for residency in the event you need to go.

You don’t always have to be sick to go into a retirement villa but for long-term care, this is different but worth the tour and discussion.

Adaptive Clothing For Long-Term Care and Seniors

You might think it’s strange to consider the costs before you retire for adaptive clothing and accessories but trust me, you’ll need it.

We use Silverts for all of my mother-in-law’s needs and they deliver straight to the LTC home.

Free Shipping over $100 anywhere in Canada. *not an affiliate link

This company is amazing and has just about everything you need for your loved one in long-term care or retirement living.

You’ll find the prices are excellent and you won’t find anything cheaper in the stores or online.

You can also ship your order directly to a senior’s home in Canada which is great if you don’t live in the same city.

Should I/we sell my house before I retire?

This is the big question everyone wants to know and the answer depends on what you want from your retirement.

Also, where will you plan to live once you sell?

Can you downsize and buy a smaller living space?

By doing so you can invest or save any equity from your home that you don’t put into the smaller home.

Where do I/we want to live when we retire?

You may want to leave the community you are currently living in and move across the province.

This is another important topic to discuss and perhaps plan far in advance if you are moving out of the city.

It may be smart to get in touch with a real estate agent if needed to help you find a new home or accommodations in your new chosen city.

How will I/we maintain our home during our retirement years?

Do you have the extra money to pay for services to keep your house maintained if you or your spouse are unable to?

Find out the pricing for these services when creating your retirement budget.

Keep in mind prices are always going to change but it’s nice to have an idea of where your money will be going.

If you feel that you cannot maintain your home perhaps it’s time to downsize or consider other community services.

Should I/we invest in a home security system for protection?

This is not a bad idea at all and today there are so many types of security systems on the market for sale.

We invested in an Arlo Pro security camera system for my mother-in-law’s home 2 years ago.

Also, just so we didn’t have to worry about recharging the batteries we spent the extra money to purchase Arlo solar panels.

The solar panels would charge the camera batteries all year even through the winter months without issue.

It has been amazing and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to protect their home.

We were able to watch her home 24/7 via the app on our smartphone which gave her and our peace of mind.

You can also install the Arlo Pro inside of the home to monitor what is going on if a loved one is ill or needs watching over.

When should I/we start to downsize what we own?

I always say that we should downsize as we go along.

By that I mean if you don’t use something for 6 months and it holds no significant value to you then get rid of it.

As for large pieces of furniture get rid of what you don’t need closer to retirement or whenever you feel comfortable doing so.

You can donate the furniture or perhaps give it to your family if it holds significant meaning to you and them.

For example, we have pieces from my wife’s grandmother’s tea cart that we keep in our china cabinet.

How do I/we invest the money earned from my house sale after I retire?

This is a very good question and another reason why you should meet with your financial advisor ahead of time.

There’s no reason that you must wait until you are close to retirement to ask him or her this question.

It will give them an idea of where you plan to put your money as well you will know what would work best for your money.

You want to keep it somewhere safe that will give you the best returns available for the lowest amount of cost.

What happens if I lose my financial independence before or after I/we retire?

Can I/we afford a caregiver?

Caregivers do not come cheap and if you have income saved you may not qualify for any type of government assistance.

If you are low-income there are community services that may send in a PSW or nurse if needed but there’s a process you need to go through.

It’s always smart to contact your local health integration networks for those of you living at home that is in need.

Local Health Integration Networks arrange all government-funded services for people living at home.

LHINs are responsible for deciding who receives care, the level of care you need and for how long.

These services used to be provided through Community Care Access Centres – or CCACs. – Ontario Home Care 

Central West Local Health Integration Networks (LIHN)

Home Care For Seniors- British Columbia

Home care includes a range of services, such as home support, that help clients remain independent and in their own home as long as possible.

Home support services are provided by community health workers to clients who require personal assistance with activities of daily living, such as:

  • mobilization
  • nutrition
  • lifts and transfers
  • bathing
  • cueing, and
  • grooming and toileting.

Spouse Death Or Health Problems

How will my life change if my spouse passes away or is put into a retirement home or long-term care?

Another great topic to chat with your spouse about ahead of time because you never know what can happen.

Perhaps you could move into a retirement villa together or if your loved one must go into long-term care you’ll need to either live at home or find a smaller accommodation.

Moving in with family is another option that many seniors consider if available to them.

Retirement Discussions

Do I/we have family or children I/we need to sit down and discuss anything with? What questions will I/we ask and what will I/we discuss?

I would sit with your children and the power of attorney to discuss with them everything they need to know before you retire and in the event, you find out you are sick with a life-long illness.

Again, this all depends on your family dynamics as not all families get along together.

Perhaps, create a list of questions you may want to ask them or tell them about and have them write down the answers for reference.

If you already have a Will prepared the power of attorney should already have all the information they need unless there’s more you need to tell them in person.

Your Retirement Path Can Change At Any Moment

senior cooking

While it looks like there are quite a few questions without answers they are all very important.

You may even have more questions when creating your retirement checklist because our lives are different.

I want you to know that if you haven’t been through the process of dealing with any of the above you’ll thank yourself.

You might even remember reading this blog post down the road and happy that you moved forward with a retirement checklist.

Thinking about your future today will give you greater control over your decisions when the time is right.

Ageing in peace without the stress of worrying about not being prepared is a gift you can give yourself by preparing today.

You can download a retirement checklist prepared by the Forum of Federal and Provincial-Territorial Ministers responsible for seniors here.

Seniors_EN-final_version retirement checklist

Relevant Blog Posts To Consider Reading

senior delivery

  1. How Canadian Seniors Can Earn Extra Money
  2. Yearly Banking Fees These Seniors Could Have Avoided
  3. Fixed Income Seniors Struggle To Learn How To Budget
  4. Grocery Shopping For Seniors
  5. 10 Debt-Free Living Tips To Consider Before Retirement
  6. 5 Simple Rules To Get You Retirement Ready
  7. 6 Retirement Concerns We’re Thinking About Today
  8. Retirement Income Sources In Canada
  9. How To Estimate And Plan Your Canadian Retirement Budget
  10. What Does Your Retirement Lifestyle Plan Look Like
  11. Why This Senior Doesn’t Care If He’s Retirement Poor
  12. How Much Should My Retirement Food Budget Be?
  13. Top 6 Retirement Mistakes To Avoid
  14. What To Expect With Little To No Retirement Savings
  15. What Should Your Retirement Savings Plan Look Like?
  16. Savings Tips Learned From My Grandma
  17. Is It Better To Buy Life Insurance  or Fund Your Retirement
  18. Senior Shares Trick To Save Money For Retirement
  19. Saving For Retirement On A Lower Income
  20. Happy Couple Puts Retirement On Hold Until Son Moves Out
  21. Do You Expect To Get A Retirement Farewell Party?
  22. A Beginner’s Guide To Early Retirement
  23. How To Stop Lifestyle Inflation From Gobbling Up Your Wealth
  24. The Ultimate Guide For Planning Ahead Your Death
  25. How To Build Generational Wealth

I know I’ve given you lots to think about but rest assured you’ll be thankful that you took the time to read this.

Anything you can do in advance of your retirement years will be considered another task ticked off your retirement checklist.

Make retirement a time to enjoy not to stress about money and the unknown.


Discussion: What else should seniors consider adding to their retirement checklist? What is something you wish you should have done before you retired?

Leave me your comments below as I’d love to hear your feedback and experiences.

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