Sitting in traffic again on the way to the office, you sigh at the mile-long line of cars idling in front of you, bright red brake lights as far as the eye can see. You’re so over this treadmill lifestyle of journeying to work every single weekday—the same thing you’ve done for decades.
Suddenly, a ray of hope breaks through like sunshine through the rain clouds. You happily remember a reassuring fact: you won’t have to do this for much longer—the end is in sight. (Well, not the end of that car line, but that’s another issue.) You’re eligible to retire within the next five years!
If this is you, congratulations! What a great feeling! Of course, just as you plan ahead for any new adventure, there are some necessary preparations to make before you celebrate that last day at work. These are five of the biggest things to think about and begin working on as you wind down your career years.
Understand Your Retirement Income & Plan a Budget
Do you have a pension? Or will you be relying on Social Security and withdrawals from a 401(k) or retirement savings accounts? Maybe a mix of all of those funding sources—including your spouse’s resources/accounts and even more financial products—will be part of your total yearly income in retirement. You may also decide to keep working in a part-time capacity if it’s something you enjoy.
The point is, your retirement income may not be simple to pin down without some serious research, unlike the predictable salary you’ve been receiving during your working life. While Social Security is a major funding source for many Americans, it’s not uncommon for today’s retirees to have up to ten sources of income contributing to their bottom line!
Many of us who are getting close to retirement simply haven’t examined what all of these resources are, let alone the exact dollar amount each will provide, making it impossible to develop a budget.
Sound familiar? Don’t panic. You’re ahead of the game in thinking about this five years out! Now is the time to get organized so you can create some preliminary budgeting guidelines to follow once you’ve actually stopped working.
Feeling overwhelmed? Again, don’t panic. One of the best things you can do is consult with an independent financial advisor who can help you sort through all of the paperwork and provide you with individualized guidance. These finance pros can also help you strategize on taxes to keep you from paying the taxman more than his fair share.
Dial Back the Risk on Your Investments
While you’ve got your money on your mind, now is the time to take precautions with your retirement savings accounts so big market swings don’t suddenly make large chunks of money disappear. (Remember the 2007-2008 Recession? So do we.)
As you get closer to retirement, it’s time to make your investment portfolio a bit more conservative. You no longer have a long stretch of time until you’ll be making withdrawals, which means your accounts won’t be able to bounce back from significant losses.
Again, talking with a trustworthy financial advisor now is a great idea. He or she can assist you in choosing a new funding mix that can safeguard your savings while still potentially providing some growth—even if the next recession hits soon.
Give Your Home Some Attention
Many Americans hope to stay in their current home in retirement. Others will downsize out of a maintenance-hungry family home into something a little more compact and lifestyle-friendly. Regardless, if you’ve lived in your house for many years, there are likely lots of things that need attention now, from aging mechanical systems to no-longer-stylish fixtures and finishes.
While you’re still working, it’s time to do the renovation work that you’ve been putting off.
If you’re planning to sell your home soon, even small upgrades to key areas, like bathrooms and kitchens, will help you realize better sales prices. And if you’re planning to stay in your home, making tweaks that create better livability and comfort only benefit you! Remember, you’re probably going to be spending more time at home during retirement, even if you are the type who likes to keep busy.
Consult with real estate experts and do research to understand what upgrades and remodeling projects offer the most bang for your buck in terms of resale value—or homeowner happiness!
Make a Plan for How You’ll Spend Your Time
It may sound a little unbelievable, but many retirees quickly realize that everyday boredom is a big problem in their lives. This isn’t surprising, though. The change of pace from working 40+ hours per week to having nearly unlimited free and unstructured time can be jarring. In fact, very few people make this lifestyle transition without some degree of discomfort.
Luckily, with a little advance planning, you can minimize feelings of being lost or disconnected as you break away from the world of work. Think about the things you like to do and create space in your home for hobbies—or imagine all of the travel destinations you want to visit and begin gathering info on vacation packages for the future. Don’t forget about health and wellness activities, either—look into local resources like fitness facilities for mature adults. (Hint: our local independent retirement communities here in Lancaster County all have great amenities that are typically open to non-residents.)
Consider Retirement Communities
Last, but certainly not least, now is the time to have discussions with your spouse and other loved ones about whether you might feel the most satisfaction in retirement by moving onto a retirement community campus filled with other like-minded individuals. These communities exist to cater to active retirees like you, and if you haven’t yet explored what they have to offer, you’re missing an opportunity.
Carefully consider whether you may have future care needs (we realize this can be difficult to think about), and look at communities that can support you through anything that may happen health-wise. Communities have different structures, and you’ll want to understand the unique benefits the various types can offer.
The Continuing Care (CCRC) and Life Plan retirement communities that we promote here at Explore Retirement Living, for instance, provide a continuum of care that fully addresses individuals’ changing needs as they age.
Getting Ready to Retire? It’s Time to Explore!
As you prepare to ditch your daily commute to work and begin living your best life in retirement, it’s time to discover the possibilities!
If, like us, you prize opportunities to gather as much information as you can at one convenient time, you’ll love our Explore Retirement Living Open House event. Mark your calendar now for this year’s tours on Saturday, October 19, 2019!