Retirement—it’s the next big step in your journey of life. But retiring at the age of 65 isn’t for everyone. If you find yourself on the fence about the best time to retire, it’s time to sit down and take stock of what you have prepared for retirement. Instead of trying to do everything at once, break your research into four easy steps.
Step 1: Set a Retirement Budget
A successful retirement is one where you live comfortably and well within your means. The sooner you can map out a financial plan for your nonworking years, the easier the transition will be.
- Evaluate your finances.
Sit down with your banker and review all of your accounts. Include any bank accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, bonds, investments, and any other assets you may hold. This will give you an idea of what monetary gaps you need to fill before you retire.
- Set a monthly budget.
Based on your assets, determine how much money you will have to spend every month. Breaking down the budget by day, week, month, and year will give you an idea of the kind of lifestyle you can have in retirement. Assess your budget and ask yourself if it will support your dream retirement lifestyle.
- Consolidate debt.
You don’t want to be paying off debt in retirement. Review your current payments and see if you can pay them off sooner rather than later.
- Take care of dependents.
Do you still have family members who are dependent upon your income? Calculate their needs into your budget planning, and talk with them about their financial plans.
Step 2: Evaluate Your Health
You’ve been healthy and active for a long time, but you never know what the future holds. When you’re getting everything together for retirement, be sure to consider your future health care.
- Find benefits through work.
Retiring with health care as part of your retirement package means you won’t have to worry about future health insurance. Review what coverage you will have in your golden years and make any necessary adjustments to your budget for special circumstances.
- Research open market plans.
If you will lose your employer-provided health care benefits when you retire, start researching health care market options. Know what your options are and what plan would be the most beneficial for you to buy into. Calculate those health insurance expenses into your monthly budget.
- Review your gym routine.
To help keep your health care costs low, revamp your exercise routines. Add strength training to your gym sessions in addition to classic aerobic exercises like running and walking.
- Implement healthy lifestyle changes.
Support your fitness by doing a once-over of your diet. It goes without saying that too much processed food can lead to higher health care bills later on. If you’re unsure about what to include in your diet, schedule a chat with your doctor.
Step 3: Make Social Plans
Have you decided how you will spend your time in retirement? Now’s the time to get out there and try something new.
- Take up a new hobby.
Spend your newly found free time taking up those hobbies you have always wanted to try, or dive deeply into your long-time favorites.
- Give back to the community.
Does the soup kitchen down the street need an extra hand to serve meals? Perhaps you want to have a say in your local government or school board? You now have the freedom to make a difference in your community.
- Travel with friends.
Have you and your friends always dreamed about taking a cruise together? When you join them in retirement, it's the perfect time to make those dreams a reality. It’s a great way to celebrate your arrival into the retired club.
- Visit your family.
Working full time can make it hard to attend every family function. Retirement is the perfect time to see family during graduations, birthdays and BBQs, without worrying about taking time off.
Step 4: Get Ready to Enjoy Your Retirement
Retirement is the next big step in your life—so take your time preparing. Review all your options for living, budgeting, and health care well in advance. The better you anticipate your last day in office, the smoother sailing you’ll have into the retirement of your dreams.
Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.