December 26, 2012 — The new year is almost upon us, and many of us in the older crop of baby boomers are just a few days away from starting our retirements. If that includes you, here are 10 things you should think about in the coming days. At the end of the article we’ve included a list with some of our best retirement preparation articles.
1. Work out your at-home lifestyle. This is particularly important if you are in a relationship where one person is already at home most of the day. That person already has their routine and their spaces – and you the newly retired person are the intruder. So think out and negotiate where you are going to hang out, and when. Having a routine that gives each partner some time alone is usually not such a bad idea either.
2. Budget issues. Retirement normally means adjusting to a different income stream, and that might be a rivulet more than a raging river. Best to prepare a detailed budget which matches income and expenses. If there is a shortfall, start planning how you are going to make up for that with reduced expenses or extra income.
3. Staying busy. Some folks are perfectly happy puttering in the garage, shopping, or playing golf with their buddies. But for many others retirement brings a lack of purpose. We recommend drafting a plan that lists possibilities for volunteering, travel, socializing, hobbies, work, etc. You might want to try several of those to see what you enjoy most. But a plan is always better than none.
4. Keeping in touch. Whether it is old college or Army friends, work colleagues, or family members – it’s easy to get out of the habit of visiting/calling. When too much time goes by inertia seems to take over. Men usually have more trouble than women staying connected. A calendar can be a great tool for this – mark some dates when you plan to call, visit, or have coffee with some of your friends. Keeping up with your social contacts is good for your overall well-being.
5. Where to live -1. Retirement gives you the opportunity for you to live wherever you want. Maybe where you live right now is perfect for climate, taxes, amenities, location, etc. But chances are it was the right place for when you were working, but not for your retirement. Now is the perfect time to be out scouting for the perfect location. Do some research on this website to narrow down some possibilities. Then go on road trips and spend time exploring various locations. Are the places you are considering convenient to shopping, medical resources, and public transportation? Can you walk to downtown, library, or recreation opportunities? Are you close enough or is it easy to travel to visit your children, grandchildren, or favorite sister. Don’t rely on your existing perceptions or what other people tell you about anyplace, there is nothing better than seeing and experiencing a town or community with your own eyes.
6. Where to live – 2. The type of home you choose for retirement is just as important as the community you live in (and some times they are closely related). In our opinion baby boomers should be looking for homes that are low maintenance, energy efficient, 1 story (or at least with master suite downstairs), and have universal design features (so you can age gracefully or cope if you have a medical issue down the road). Does it meet the latest building codes if the home is in an area prone to hurricanes, floods, or tornadoes? If the home is in a development, have you done your due diligence on its rules and financial health?
7. Keeping your health. Other than losing a loved one, the worst thing that can ruin any retirement plan is a serious decline in your health. What is your plan for getting and staying healthy? That includes your exercise plan and diet. Many people gravitate toward fitness centers or swimming pools with classes, which makes it easier and more reliable than going it alone. What does your doctor say about your health? Take their advice seriously if want a chance to have all the retirement fun you always planned on.
8. Social Security and Medicare. A major decision you need to make is when to start taking your social security benefit (and if married, when your spouse should). We have written many articles on this subject (see “further reading” below), and continue to believe that for most people, taking the benefit at 62 is a very bad idea. You don’t have much choice about Medicare, you pretty much have to take it at 65. For those without health insurance, it is a godsend. See “Further Reading” for more on how to sign up.
9. What’s on Your Bucket List? Come on, this is your retirement we’re talking about. Retirement is a “Do Over” on life, so get ready to grab it. Make a list now of the 10 things you want to do before you can’t – and get started having fun! See related article in “Further Reading”
10. Re-assess. Not every plan works out, and good management practice means continual reassessment. At the end of some period, say 6 months or a year, have a management meeting with yourself against these 10 planning tips. How well is each one going? Maybe you are not staying busy enough (or you need to cut back). Perhaps your financial plan needs a tweak. The beauty of your retirement is that you are now the boss – if things aren’t working out, you have the power to change them!
For further reading:
Retirement Readiness Checklist
Is This the Right Time for You to Retire
10 Worst Retirement Mistakes
What You Think You Know About Social Security Might Hurt You
The Best and Worst Things About Retirement (Survey Results)
What’s on Your Bucket List
So You’re Turning 65: Your Guide to Medicare 101
Good luck to you! Please share your retirement planning thoughts, plans, triumphs, and shortcomings in the Comments section below.