How to “Prepare” for Retirement

senior coupleMany of us have a vision of our retirement, where every day looks like the weekends we enjoy now, full of golf, fishing, relaxing or whatever we enjoy.  We look forward to the day where we no longer need to get up and go to work.  The reality is sometimes transitioning to retirement isn’t so easy.  It may be wise to have a plan and perhaps “practice” your retirement years, as they may not turn out exactly as we had envisioned.

Let’s start by taking a look at retirement as like getting ready for a trip. The better the plan, the better the outcome.  To help, we’ve put together a list of suggestions to help the transaction go smoother;

  1. Take more weeks of vacation now.  One of the top retirement desires is to travel more.  So why wait?  Even if you don’t have enough vacation time to takes months to travel abroad, there are plenty of interesting places to visit right here is the US.  So if you’re not taking time off now, be diligent about carving out time.  It may help you decide what type of traveling you like to do, and the places you like to go.
  2. Change your work hours.  Many companies today are more open to flexible hours.  A recent survey found that 25% of people age 55 and over reported that their employers allowed workers approaching retirement to switch from full-time to part-time or allowed remote work.
  3. Spend four seasons in your retirement destination.  If you already have a destination in mind, make sure to spend time there off-season and see if you like it.
  4. Make friends who are already retired.  A strong social network is key.  You may find that your retirement timing is different than your current social network of friends.  So, instead of waiting until you retire to make new friends, start making connections now.
  5. Start a new hobby.  Perhaps you have something you’ve been meaning to get back to or perhaps you want to start a new hobby.  Why not start now?  New hobbies might require start-up costs or lessons.  So make the financial layout now while you have your full income.
  6. If you are staying in your home, make repairs now.  Even though you’ll have more time for home projects once you retire, you may want to start any remodels or upgrading now.  If you choose to wait on these projects until retirement, you might want to set aside “remodel” dollars while you still have your full pre-retirement wages.
  7. Live on your retirement income.  For many, retirement means less income.  So experiment with living on 70% or 80% of your income to test this out.

And once you are retired, make sure to try something new periodically.  Often, people get into a rut, eating the same foods, watching the same tv shows, going to the same vacation spots.  While this may be fine for some, retirement offers the opportunity for change.  Interesting and active lifestyles are an important part to overall health.

Your retirement can be a wonderful time and many wonderful experiences may lay ahead of you.  A little planning can help in the transition, making your retirement years truly golden.