For people looking at retirement in the next five years, it’s the perfect time to make sure things are in order.

It’s getting near holiday time, folks, which means New Year’s is around the corner. That means, for many, New Year’s resolutions.

For people looking at retirement in the next five years, it’s the perfect time to make sure things are in order. This is more a to-do list than a must-do list. But it’s a perfect time to start that diet and a perfect time to dust off that retirement plan.

There is plenty to think about financially, but it’s also a good time to start your mental preparations — a step many retirees forget to take.

“A friend of ours admitted he was afraid to retire because he didn’t know if his ego could take transitioning from being a fancy lawyer to just a plain citizen,” says Joan Scott, author of Skinning the Cat: A Baby Boomer’s Guide to the New Retiree Lifestyles. “He took his time adjusting and worked on feeling good about himself — himself as a person, not a job.”

So, getting ready both emotionally and financially is critically important for a successful retirement. Take a look at your portfolio. Take a look at Social Security and figure out when exactly you need to start taking it.

“Delay claiming your Social Security benefits, if possible,” says Debbie Banda, AARP interim vice president for financial security. “You can begin collecting Social Security at age 62, but your monthly benefits will be permanently reduced. It’s usually best to wait until full retirement age to claim un-reduced benefits. But, if you can wait to claim until your full retirement age, your benefits will grow 8% a year, up until 70.”

This is the perfect time to take a look at everything.

So, from the experts, here are five tips the help you prepare for a better, safer retirement. Look for another five tips in a December column.

1. If you don’t have a financial plan, get one done. If you have a financial plan, update it. “If you don’t have a written financial plan, develop a clearly defined, written income plan,” says Sean Lee, of SPL Financial in Salt Lake City. “It should have five areas: investments, income, tax, health care and estate.”

“Many people make ’emotional’ decisions, but a written plan set out at the beginning of the year will provide some guidance throughout the year, so investment or financial decisions during the year won’t be based off emotion if the stock market rises or falls,” says Herb White, of Life Certain Wealth Solutions in Denver.

“Review your written financial plans,” Lee says. “The majority of Americans just don’t do a written plan, and this is incredibly important as you near retirement. Meet with an expert and create one.”

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