January 17, 2012 — First, congratulations. You have worked hard and deserve a great retirement. We encourage you to follow the advice in this article to help you do just that. Links to additional resources are provided as well.
1. Figure out how much you are spending. Most financial advisors would agree that their clients tend to underestimate their spending and overestimate their incomes. The only way to be safe is to start recording your spending. Only then can you get a clear picture of what you are spending and where it is going. If out of line with your income, you have a chance to do something about it.
2. Analyze when to start taking Social Security. Even though you can start collecting your benefits at age 62, delaying your benefits can have a huge positive financial impact, if you can afford to wait. It is easy to see what your benefit will be if you delay. Talk with your financial advisor about whether it makes sense for you. “10 Things to Know Before You Start Taking Social Security”
3. Take stock of your financial resources. Calculate what all of your investments including 401k and other assets are worth. Find out how much, if any, your pension might be. Add in your expected Social Security Administration income. How much will be earning from employment or other sources? Now, with all that in place, you are in a position to compare expenses and income, see what shape you are in, and take action if the picture is not as rosy as you thought.
4. Put together your bucket list. Now is the time to write down the 10 things you would like to do before you leave this world. Then get started checking them off! “What’s on Your Bucket List?”
5. Think about where you are going to live. That means writing down your priorities for a number of issues – climate, hobbies, expense, cultural preferences, proximity to family and friends, etc. “5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Retiring in Another State”
6. Prepare to downsize. You should be thinking about downsizing to a less expensive and easier to maintain home. The sooner you do it, the more money and trouble you will save. “How to Retire in Style and on a Budget”
7. Get ready emotionally. Retirement isn’t going to work for you if you don’t prepare for it emotionally. Particularly if you are retiring from a high pressure, high status job – you are in for an adjustment. If your significant other is already at home, your arrival there full-time will present a different sort of adjustment for you both. “I Married You for Life – But Not for Lunch!”
We need to credit Tom Lauricella who inspired us to expand on his excellent article in the Wall Street Journal:
Five Things You Need to Do if You Are Retiring in 2012
What are your comments? Have you already retired, or just getting ready to? Please share your concerns, expectations, joys, and experiences in the Comments section below.