It’s almost Christmas and that means holiday time is coming for most. That’s a time to relax, time to catch up with friends and family, time to think.
This relaxed mode can be the ideal time to think about your retirement. After a few days of shaking off work mode, it could be helpful to grab a pen and some paper to write down thoughts about your retirement.
Here are five questions that could be helpful starters:
1. When will I be ready for retirement?
Will it be when you get to retirement age? Is it when you have enough money put aside? Is it a dependent child at home that makes you hesitate? Is it something else?
Of course, you may say that you don’t want to retire anytime soon. If that’s the case, you may want to work out when you will be ready.
2. What do I need to do or know about my finances?
Your finances are important for retirement. Do you know if you have enough put aside—and if there’s enough to last? If not, how will you find out?
Can you set up your money and investments to get the best value from it and to avoid unnecessary costs and taxes—or to gain a pension? Unless you understand the system, you will probably need help. How will you search it out?
3. What do I really want to do in retirement?
This question goes beyond: have that celebratory holiday; renovate the house; just relax. Those can all happen, but it doesn’t answer the big question of what will you do with the 40 or so hours you gift yourself each week by retiring?
Options could be developing or working on a hobby; becoming involved in a cause; working the garden; or working part-time. This is your retirement. What will you do?
4. What will I do in the first three months of retirement?
While related to question 3, this is more specific. Too many people retire without having any plan except to enjoy it without knowing what a fulfilling retirement takes. A plan for the first three months allows you to get a feel for retirement and to help you plan the routine for the rest of your life.
5. What should I be doing now to be ready for then?
I’ll mention finances again because it is important. What do you need to do now? Keep in mind, though, there are other things just as important. For instance, how’s your health? Now is the time to be working on your health to take a healthy you into retirement.
The reality is, you take who you are into retirement and you have control over the version of who you’re going to be. It’s worth working on now.
I can recommend this process of setting aside time to think through your retirement—and of writing down your ideas. It was something we did as a couple and it helped us clarify our plans and to understand our individual and joint expectations.
We did an initial exercise like this aided by dark hot chocolates in a quiet little café. It was a pleasant experience with the bonus that dark chocolate is good for your brain and mood.
We’ve also discovered that, in retirement, things change. You’ll find the same, but it’s easy enough to adapt. The important thing before retirement is that you’re thinking and planning ahead.
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