They say you’re never fully prepared to have children; the same could possibly be said for retirement. Life still gets in the way of plans, but one way to work out the kinks is to “test-drive” some of your retirement plans while you’re still employed. Consider the following tips to help prepare for retirement.
Spousal Perspective – Most of us have a vision of how we would like to spend our retirement. Sometimes couples who have been together for so long that they read each other’s thoughts and finish each other’s sentences just assume they share the same retirement dreams. Not so. Often one dreams of spending more time with family while the other imagines long days of peace and quiet on the golf course. One good exercise is for each spouse to create a budget covering the expenses they imagine they’ll have in retirement. It can be quite illuminating to see the differences; comforting to find similarities.
Testing Hobbies – Perhaps you dream of gardening, travel, opening a shop or writing a book. If you haven’t spent a lot of time doing these things in the past, they could fall short of your expectations. Give your hobbies a test run before you invest a lot of money in them. You may find you rather dislike the heat, dirt and bugs that come with gardening, or the logistical work involved with opening a shop. Much like life itself, it’s important to separate the dream of what you’d like to do from the reality of what you’ll actually do in retirement.
Make Exercise a Habit – Unfortunately, newfound leisure time often leads to inactivity, so try out a few low-impact exercise options before retirement to find one you like. Walking, swimming, yoga and Pilates are among the alternatives you may be able to continue throughout a long life. If you start classes now, you’ll have a schedule to follow in retirement — which can help prevent idleness.
Off-Season Visitation – If you’re considering relocating or purchasing a second home for retirement, first be sure to visit your preferred destination during the off-season as well as the high season. For year-rounders, you may find the locale to be too cold, too hot, too crowded or too desolate for your taste. For part-timers thinking they might rent out the home part of the year, these same conditions may make it difficult to find qualified renters.
Separate Income Plans – Many couples start out retirement with two people, but unfortunately end up with only one. If their retirement plan leans too heavily on assets of one spouse — such as a single life pension plan — the surviving spouse could experience a significant drop in income. It’s important to develop an income plan for the contingency of each spouse dying first to understand how much income would remain.
Streamline Finances – You might consider consolidating the number of banking and investment accounts you have so there’s less to keep track of. Automate deposits, distributions and bill-paying as much as possible so it’s easier to monitor your incoming and outgoing income.