If you’ve always imagined your retirement as a carefree time full of travel, golf, or spending more time with family and friends, then it’s a good idea to take action now by making realistic, concrete goals and devising a plan on how to accomplish them.
Keep in mind that it’s never too early to do so, and planning for your post-full-time work years doesn’t have to be complicated either.
All you have to do is to carefully consider the life and lifestyle you envision for your retirement, consider your everyday future — not just travel days — to determine how much you need to have saved, and develop a plan to close any savings gaps.
1. Save now
Some people don’t retire till very late in life. If that’s you, your goal retirement age might still be 20 or 30 years away from now.
But that doesn’t mean you should put off saving. On the contrary, you need to put aside as much as you can afford to right now. When you do retire, those savings will be your main source of income. While Social Security helps many retirees, you’ll be safest if you plan to rely solely on yourself — just in case.
The key to saving effectively is coming up with realistic goals and training yourself to stay on track. Things to consider include your outgoing costs (living expenses and healthcare are to be considered first, before travel) and incoming funds (stocks, bonds, short-term reserves).
Whether you’re just now considering retirement or need to revisit your current plan, the AARP’s retirement calculator can help you assess your needs on a personalized level and is a great place to start in setting your goals.
2. Choose a good medical plan
One expense you can’t escape later in life is medical costs, so doing all you can to reduce that expense in retirement is worthwhile.
And there are lots of ways to do just that.
From carefully choosing a health plan now and shopping around when it comes to medical procedures, to sticking with generic prescription drugs and doing as much free, preventative care as possible (flu shots, adult vaccines, blood pressure screenings), a little attention to detail now will go a long way.
3. Choose your future
Wanting to travel during retirement is normal, but unless you plan to do so 365 days a year, consider making a separate bucket list of other things you want to do later in life.
Do you want to write a book? Learn to garden? Volunteer? Think about hobbies you’ve always wanted to take up or organizations you wanted to support but never had the time to do so.
This will help you fill your days with purpose and steer clear of the panic and stress that come from boredom, as is sadly common among retirees.
4. Turn a passion into profit
If you’re concerned about not having enough savings for retirement, consider identifying your new hobby early on and turn your passion project into a money-making one.
A side project could be anything from painting to collecting and selling antiques. The important thing is to choose something that you can begin making a profit on as soon as possible. Start a website, join eBay or Etsy, or find a place to sell in your town, and start making that little extra something worth putting aside.
If you have a life insurance policy that you no longer need, consider working with your financial advisor to explore the life settlement option. Selling your policy on the secondary market can help you pay for healthcare costs, add to your retirement income, or pay for assisted living.
5. Set a date to revisit your plan
No one can be sure of how their plans will suit them in the long run, and so much can change in a year’s time — from outside financial factors like inflation, to personal medical expenses, and so forth.
That’s why it’s a good idea to make a date with yourself to revisit how things are going. Whether it’s with a financial advisor, your spouse, a family member, or simply yourself, make an official date to reassess your plan, investments, savings, and future costs so you can be sure you’re still on the right track.
Do you need to increase your monthly payout? Rethink your expectations of life after retirement? Doing this every year will ensure that you’re able to get what you want out of your retirement years.
Want to learn more about living a full, healthy retirement? Read our post “5 Tips for Aging Gracefully.”