You never know what the future holds in store for you. It may sound like a marketing slogan, but it’s true. Retirement planning can sometimes feel like a shot in the dark. Particularly in a state like Michigan, which is reported to have an average retirement age of 62—several years lower than the national average.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily indicate Michiganders are more prosperous than the rest of the country. According to a recent survey from the Federal Reserve Board, almost one quarter of Americans between the ages of 62 and 64 indicated they were forced into an early retirement either due to health issues or a lack of available work. An even more frightening prospect? Nearly one quarter indicated that they have no retirement savings or pension to rely upon.

Retirement planning isn’t fail-proof. Investments can fall through. And the prospects of retiring early can come sooner than you think—and not necessarily to your advantage. Just how prepared are you for the future? With just a little foresight, you can save now and make the most of your retirement. Here are some tips you may want to keep in mind when planning your retirement.

What’s The Best Long Term Lifestyle For You?

Both goals and values can change drastically in as little as five years for many people. And what seems important for you in your 30s may not seem all that relevant to you when you’re 60. One thing to remember about retirement planning is that your savings should be adequate enough to meet your ideal—not current—lifestyle. Think of what you want out of life during retirement. Travel? A vacation home? Freedom from current financial worries? Leaving an inheritance for your family? In short, think of what you’d like to be doing in your late 60s and tailor your plan to fit those needs.

How Much Savings Will Be Sufficient?

Taking into account inflation, rising costs of living and limited long term growth of investments, the actual number you might expect to retire comfortably with may turn out to surprise you—unpleasantly. This is the unfortunate reality of retirement planning, and it was no different 25 years ago. If you need help, AARP offers an extremely user friendly retirement planning calculator which can help you optimize your savings.

Which Investment Strategies Are Right For You?

This includes both instruments (mutual funds, 401(k)s, IRAs and annuities, for example) as well as your personal level of comfort when investing. Most investors tend to keep a fixed attitude towards their finances based on current market rates—which isn’t always the wisest idea. Rates change so rapidly that a fixed attitude will rarely yield the best results. This is one of the reasons why we recommend working with an advisor who understands both your needs, your resources and your retirement goals. If you’re relatively new to financial planning, start saving conservatively. While aggressive investing can sometimes yield excellent short term results, consider a solid foundation first. Your long term security may be at stake.

How Are You Itemizing Your Retirement Expenses?

Medicare may not cover all your health expenses when you retire. And you may still find yourself paying interest on the 30 year mortgage you signed ten years ago. Prioritize your expenses from the most necessary to the most ideal—and that starts with your health. If your insurance offers it (and you qualify), consider investing in a health savings account to help alleviate the strain any future medical expenses may make on your savings.

Can You Supplement Your Income After Your Retirement?

While many pre-retirees assume retirement will be a time of peace and quiet, they often find themselves bored, frustrated and more than a little stir crazy. But the gig economy (currently estimated to be composed of 60 million contract employees and growing in the U.S.) isn’t just for millennials. Both retirees and pre-retirees have learned to supplement their savings through part time jobs and even freelancing to keep themselves occupied. Some retirees have even turned their independent side jobs into a profitable full time career—even over the age of 65!

What Does Your Current Debt Balance Look Like?

One of the biggest cycles many Americans fall victim to is borrowing money to pay off existing debt. This doesn’t just put a strain on your credit rating. It drains your savings as well as your confidence about the future. If you find yourself among the one out of every 10 Americans who anticipate owing debt for the rest of their lives, you need to stop this habit immediately. Prioritize your debt repayments according to your budget. Consider only the ones it might make sense to repay. If you can afford to, make extra payments each month, even in relatively small increments. And learn to live below your means until they’re paid off; you’d be surprised how even the most trivial sacrifices can take a huge chunk out of your monthly repayments.

What Can You Live Without Today?

As consumers, we’re frequently motivated by wants instead of needs. This isn’t always a bad thing. After all, it’s those small creature comforts that make our daily lives just a little bit more rewarding. But just how many of those comforts are absolutely necessary? For some of you, those comforts might include an annual vacation. Or upgrading your smartphone every 6 months. Or even going out to dinner twice a week. Learning to distinguish between your needs and wants doesn’t just go a long way in improving your current finances. It gives you clarity which is fundamental towards securing both your future—and your peace of mind.

At Calcite Credit Union, we know the future is never crystal clear. But we know how to help you maximize the steps that prepare you for it. Visit us today at Calcite Credit Union.