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Our Best and Worst Tips for the Newly Retired

Category: General Retirement Issues

March 14, 2011 — If you are like most Topretirements members, you are a baby boomer or just slightly ahead of that demographic. Chances are you are either about to retire, or have just done so. This article will can serve as your Retirement 101 crash course – start off by reading our 26 best — and worst – ideas for you as a newly retired person.

But First
The most important thing for the newly retired person to realize is that retirement is going to be very different from what you are doing now. To make the best of it you….

have to seize the opportunity – letting it happen to you without planning or foresight will help insure that yours is not the happy and fulfilling experience it could be. Ideally that planning takes place well in advance of the actual retirement date, to give you a chance to get things in place.

Best ideas for the Newly Retired
1. We just said it, but the advice is worth repeating – Plan your retirement in advance
2. Prepare a detailed budget of your income and expenses, so you know what you are dealing with. Here is a sample budget
3. Work on your bucket lists. You and your significant other need to write down what you want to accomplish in your retirement. If you don’t, anything could happen. Sample Bucket List.
4. Plan on downsizing your home. You will save lots of money and aggravation. Don’t wait, do it early
5. Figure out where you want to live in retirement. Maybe it is near the grandchildren, maybe not. Research places to retire on this and other websites, then go visit them in person. You won’t know until you go
6. What is going to keep your mind engaged? In our experience busy people are happy people. Folks whose minds are engaged stay healthier and happier. Make a plan
7. Work out how you and your significant other are going to interact in retirement. Will you both be hanging around the house? How about money and work and travel – talk about your plans and interactions so you are not surprised
8. Get a part-time job or volunteer gig
9. Retire to a community you know well
10. Buy a home with Universal Design features
11. Make plans to connect and share experiences with your retired friends (before and after you retire!)
12. Attend free financial planning seminars. After careful research and reference checking, consider hiring a certified financial planner or someone with equivalent credentials.
13. Before you buy into a community, do your due diligence on association rules, assessments, financial reserves, and delinquencies.

Worst Ideas for Retirement
1. Reach retirement with no plan in place
2. Move far away from your kids and grandkids
3. Stay in your big suburban house
4. Buy a home in a community without renting there first
5. Quit your job before you have enough money for retirement
6. Move to a new place with no plan for meeting people (folks who live in active communities usually don’t have to worry about this)
7. Move to a home with a 2nd floor master bedroom
8. Move without consideration to where you will live when you really get old
9. Fail to consider availability of good quality medical care or public transportation
10. Spend your retirement money at a rate that means you run out
11. Take your social security payments starting at 62 when you could have afforded to wait
12. Don’t have a financial plan
13. Retire to a state or community purely for tax reasons.

For Further Reference:
5 Easy Ways to Ruin Your Retirement
What do you think?
Please share your ideas and experiences about retirement tips in the Comments section below.

Posted by John Brady on March 14th, 2011


  1. This is a good listing. Planning for retirement should start many years before it starts – that’s the hard part, and if you don’t save/plan, it’s too late when it happens. I worry about those who don’t make much money during their working years and try to retire with nothing but maybe social security. I worked 45 years and just having entered “retirement” still worry that my plan was not sufficient.

    by John Hansen — March 16, 2011

  2. Nice list – don’t forget to consider inflation when doing your financial planning. Your expenses will get larger each year with inflation and you must factor this into your calculations. Although inflation has been running around 1 or 2% the last several years, the average rate for the first decade of the 21st century has been a bit under 3% and from January, 1990 through November, 2010 it has averaged close to 3.5%. At that rate, an item that cost $200 in January, 1990 would cost over $340 in November, 2010. So if you ignore inflation you will be seriously overestimating your ability to fund your retirement expenses.
    Jan Cullinane, co-author, The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale)

    by Jan Cullinane, co-author The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your LIfe (Rodale 2007) — March 16, 2011

  3. Great advice all around. As a community within a couple hours of Houston and Dallas, we find the grandchild part of the equation to be important. You may not want to be the 24/7 babysitter, but you probably do want to be only a daytrip or a weekend drive away, especially if the grandbabies are less than six years old. (Travel with tots is hard on the parents!) We’re a university town and we have found that the “close, but not too close” rule that works for a college freshman, also works for Gran and Pawpaw.

    by Bruce R. Partain — March 16, 2011

  4. As I plan my retirement, this article has quite a few good pointers. As a good number of retirees are divorced, or widowed, it would be helpful to add some info that would be useful to singles.

    by Mona — March 16, 2011

  5. I agree with John on starting to plan early. It seems too many people think of only two stages – working and retired. Actually, just as you need to review your plan in retirement at least annually, you also need to stage your saving phases. This may differ with each person to some extent but generally within the what you expect to be your last 5 to 10 years working you should start reassessing your portfolio and projecting expenses in retirement. I imagine many people who were planning to retire right before the stock market crash(es) weren’t doing this. If so, that might not have been as big an issue. The comments about inflation are solid but you also need to remember that some things, like health care right now, inflate at a higher rate. This can be significant. In addition if you do have income producing assets that are doing poorly in this low inflation environment you should find them doing much better with inflation. This doesn’t mitigate everything but it does mean that portfolio planning and replanning does become important for many reasons. Last I might suggest that after/if you feel comfortable with your financial planning you will find the other considerations of retirement, many mentioned in the article, are even harder to figure out. Thanks for the interesting articles.

    by Mejask — March 16, 2011

  6. Four observations:
    1. Adding to Mejask’s “…that some things, like health care right now, inflate at a higher rate….”. And some, like college tuition and other expenses related to child-rearing, are not relevant to retirees. I have yet to see an inflation index focused on/for seniors/retirees.
    2. About downsizing: much depends on housing values – crashed or steady?- of your present and future locales. There are several from-to “cost-of-living comparative charts” (Google the words in ” “)
    3. Integrate your particular income/tax/financial situation with various state tax set-ups. High assessment house? Private or public pension? Investment income? Federal, Military, or Railroad retiree?
    Earned income? Social Security? AMT liability? Smoker? Drive a gas-guzzler? States tax very differently. Go to for detailed state tax information, right down to cigarettes, gasoline, and food.
    4. Live, and establish residence, in a warm, tax-free state (Florida, southern Texas): read about snow storms, floods, sub-zero temps, and blizzards up north. Head north in the summer: read about tornadoes, hurricanes, and 100 degree weather in the south.

    by oldnassau — March 16, 2011

  7. I understand the importance of renting in a community before buying, but if one wants to live in an over-55 community, that is not possible in any I’ve read about. Renting in town will not answer most of the questions! Yet that advice is always given.

    by Smbslt — April 4, 2011

  8. Smbslt. It is possible to rent in many active adult and 55+ communities. Probably harder in brand new communities, but in almost all established communities there is usually a rental market. Contact the developer or the HOA, or search online. I agree, renting in the town will probably not answer most of the questions.

    by John — April 5, 2011

  9. […] make your retirement quest easier. That way you won’t miss practical features like “Our Best and Worst Tips for the Newly Retired“, “Why Moving to Florida Might be a Good Move – And How to Do It“, or […]

    by » Top 10 Retirement Articles for 2011 Topretirements — December 26, 2011

  10. Also consider the social and cultural dynamics of your new proposed location. I did a lot of work looking at finances, but when I left work I left a major source of meeting peers. I also divorced before moving. No matter how many activities I join, living in a bible belt, family-oriented, “red” state, I am invisible here – 5 years later. Folks don’t seem to know what to do with an open-minded, former professional, single older woman with no children or grandchildren, and no interest in crafts. Bad fit.

    by Anne — September 20, 2012

  11. Your profile is relatively similar to my own. I realize the challenges, but it still makes planning difficult. That is why I am trying to be careful in finding the right location. But it is hard to tell until you are really there. But I do try to avoid the type of areas that you mention. I have a lot of interests, but still see the “invisable” that you talk about. We are welcome to be part of the group while volunteering, but not welcome at “couples” functions. Where did you live before retiring? Why did you choose your retirement location? Did you choose an active adult community? I probably do not have much time left until I am “retired”.

    by Elaine — September 21, 2012

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