Preparing To Retire Is All About the Details

If you hope to realize the retirement you imagine and deserve you need to prepare. Leaving the details of your second act to chance is a good way to miss out on what should be a glorious time to explore your interests, passions and hobbies. It is not possible to foresee all of the twists and turns that lie ahead but you can improve your odds by proactively planning for your post-career journey.

What it will cost to live the life you want?

Careful budgeting is a cornerstone to any successful retirement plan. If you don’t know the net of how much you have coming in compared to how much you spend each month you put yourself in a precarious position. While you may skate by in the early years when your funds are relatively higher you will eventually find yourself running in the red.

As you begin your calculations try to figure your cost of living based not just upon getting by. Retirement is your time to enjoy. Build in sufficient expenditures to allow you to do so. Often times there will be tradeoffs so it helps to prioritize those most important components of your retirement wish list.

One area that caught me unprepared was the incredible cost of healthcare. All those years working for companies that paid for health and dental and vision as part of employment are but a distant memory. In retirement each of us assumes the burden of insuring our own health. Not only are the rates monumentally high to begin with but the costs are trending ever upward. I find it frightening knowing our advancing years bring with them the likelihood of numerous health challenges whose corresponding expenses are only increasing.

My wife and I did our research and ultimately opted for a mid-level plan through Blue Shield with significant deductibles, intimidating out of pocket maximums, and confusing coverage options, all for the not-so- cheap price of more than $2000 per month. And that excludes dental and vision. As you prepare to live a fulfilling retirement, don’t underestimate the bite healthcare costs will take out of your nest egg.

What do you want your retirement life to look like?

If things go as expected you can hope to spend your retirement days doing the things you have always wanted to do. You control how you choose to spend the hours and days and weeks. Freedom of choice is a wonderful reality. By the way, have you thought about how you might want to spend all that blessed free time?

Recent retirees often share how they worked hard all their lives to earn their retirement only to discover they are not sure what to do once they arrive. Imagine you are in the early days of your second act only to find yourself bored with the life you live. With nothing to look forward to it can sometimes feel challenging to even get out of bed.

The time to plan is before you retire. Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself what it is you would like to do with the next few decades.

Is travel an important ingredient to your happily-retired list or are you content at home?

Do you get antsy without people to interact with or can you entertain yourself?

Do you like to try new things or are you set in your ways?

Do you have a lot of interests/hobbies to explore?

What do you enjoy most doing?

Do you have any specific goals set?

Look ahead to the lifestyle you hope to live as a retiree. Then take those actions now that can better assure you realize those dreams.

How does your vision of retirement compare with that of your spouse?

If you have a significant other retirement will include both of you. If you have never spent 24/7 together for an extended period this is your chance! The well prepared retired couple takes time to better understand each other and individual ideas of retired living. There will be plenty of time to do things together but it is equally important to have time alone. You can avoid possible conflict by deciding who does what around the house and garden. Since retirement is dynamic open communications as you navigate your journey together is a must.

What does your spouse most enjoy doing?

What things do you like to do together?

Are you both okay with spending time apart pursuing personal interests?

Where do your plans regarding retirement differ?

A happy spouse means a happy house so make sure you are on the same page to get the most out of your mutual retirement.

Have you found your “happy place”?

I remember times on the job when all that kept me sane was the thought of someday retiring from the rat race to live a more enjoyable existence. I pictured a peaceful spot away from the noise and stress where I would do what I wanted – as little or as much as I liked. My ultimate happy place found me sitting on a beach, waves rhythmically breaking along the shoreline while seagulls squawked above – not a care in the world and not a better place to be.

Now retired, I have discovered quite a few happy places. The beach continues to reign supreme. But I love sitting on a bench in the garden or walking a wilderness trail. I am totally at peace strolling the downtown or driving along country roads. How about a mid-day coffee at the local java shop watching the rest of the world scurry by? The best part is in retirement I no longer only imagine time in my happy space(s) – I get to spend time there whenever I want. When did you last visit your own happy place?

I sometimes get slightly obsessive about planning. I like to know what is next on the agenda, where we are going, when we will arrive, you know the drill. When it comes to retirement that planning obsession might be a positive. Although no one knows exactly what to expect – which can be kind of exciting in itself – the more we anticipate the details of how our retirement will roll out the fewer unexpected surprises we will face.

5 Ways Seniors Can Find Empowerment Through Technology

Written By Marie Villeza

The notion that seniors don’t wish to use or embrace technology couldn’t be further from the truth. More and more research continues to show that seniors are just as interested in technology as younger generations. This narrowing of the digital divide gives seniors even more resources to help them stay in touch, maintain a social calendar, enjoy travel, and monitor their health. All of which goes to show that age is just a number.

Of course, there are many seniors who are ready to jump into using technology, but their lack of know-how leaves them feeling intimidated. It doesn’t have to be this way! By helping seniors gain accessibility to technology, we can empower them to take better control of their lives. Here are some great ways to connect seniors with technology and help them maintain independence.

Tablets and Smartphones

A tablet is a great option for seniors to use, especially if they don’t have a need for a computer. Tablets have great portability, and they make it easy to check email, use social media, stay in touch with family, play games, or plan for life. Smartphones also offer great access for seniors. These phones have all the benefits of a tablet but on a smaller scale. There are even several types of smartphones that are specifically designed for seniors. It helps, too, that more companies are taking note of seniors’ interest in technology, which in turn brings more devices to the marketplace that are senior-friendly.

Technology Classes

Most libraries and senior centers these days have a variety of technology classes that can help anyone get a better grasp of how to use their smartphone, tablet, computer, or apps. The best part about these classes is that they are usually free. (Always a bonus when you’re retired and on a budget!).

Also, AARP has recently developed AARP Tek, which gives seniors a starting point for learning more about technology, understanding safety measures when using new technology, help with using social media, and connecting with caregivers. This is a huge benefit to bridging any sort of digital divide. And by having such a renowned senior-focused group aiding in technology know-how, this definitely can lend a sense of legitimacy and comfort.

Apps Abound

Once seniors have the hang of the tablet and smartphones, the possibilities are endless. There is an app for just about everything you can think of: games, travel, appointments, music. And that’s just naming a few. Apps can also connect seniors with technology-assisted living that includes grocery shopping, transportation, medication reminders, cleaning services, and in-home health care. While predominant in larger cities, this type of technology is still available in many moderately-sized cities and suburbs. By having this type of access right at their fingertips, seniors can keep their independence and stay tech savvy.

Smartwatches and Fitness Trackers

Many seniors are enjoying the benefits of smartwatches. These are sleeker, nicer looking and less obvious devices compared to the wearable safety alert systems of yesterday. Smartwatches offer a multitude of options like cell phone connectivity, GPS tracking, medication reminders, fall alerts, or panic buttons. (This technology can even provide comfort to families, too, so they can help monitor aging parents who might not live nearby.)

Fitness trackers help everyone keep an eye on their fitness levels, and with the ease of use these are perfect devices for seniors who want to monitor their fitness and sleep activity.

Get the Family Involved

With teenagers being the portion of the population particularly savvy when it comes to technology, connecting teens with seniors is a great way for the younger generation to help the older generation understand how best to use their devices and apps. This becomes a twofold benefit in that not only will seniors get tech help from kids who know how to use it, but you also have inter-generational bonding taking place.

These are just a handful of ways for seniors to gain more accessibility to technology. As the marketplace grows, so will their options. By making technology more approachable, seniors will have the opportunity to feel more connected to their families, communities and the world in general.

Don’t Let Living in the Past Threaten Your Future

It’s not unusual when looking at pictures of our younger days to feel a bit nostalgic. Seeing ourselves when we were smooth skinned and shiny eyed, when the world held so much promise and every day brought the possibility of new exciting experiences strikes a sweet chord in our heart. Remember when you had energy to burn and napping happened once a day at the end of the day? Sore muscles and tired joints were momentary inconveniences that quickly passed. Good eyes, strong teeth, stamina without end and the ability to eat whatever you want without fear of repercussion were nothing out of the ordinary – just the way it was.

Then one day instead of living the life depicted in those pictures we find ourselves outsiders looking in wishing what had been could be again.

Many believe the past holds the best moments of their life lived. Glory days back in school were as good as things ever got. The early days were the best days. After that the merciless grind of the job and burden of making a living sometimes became all-encompassing. Who has time for fun living in a world where every hour in the day must be productively spent?

I read a book about a 50 year old who felt his life was slipping by. Mistakes and miscalculation that mere decades ago could easily have been overcome now felt insurmountable. The clock was ticking and he feared he was running out of time to be all he could be. His focus was on how great his earlier life had been and how lost he felt having arrived at the ripe old age of 50.

I don’t buy it.

Sure it was grand to be young and strong and energetic back in the day. When it comes to physical prowess youth holds the edge. But what about when you need your brain, when intellect and experience give you the advantage? The adage wisdom comes with age is well said. Diverse experiences over our lifetime teach us how to react and respond optimally to unpredictable situations. It’s hard to realize the benefit of learning from our mistakes when we have not been on this Earth long enough to stumble and get back up few times. We learn over the years to avoid mistakes that caused suffering or hardship. The accumulation of knowledge and experiences along with patience and understanding ideally evolve into something those few in years do not possess – namely wisdom. None of us is born wise – it is the product of time and living.

danger thin ice

Before you overdo it with sweet thoughts of those perfect days of yore take a moment to think back on some of the less-than-romantic realities of your younger days. I for one would not want to relive those anxious dating days when I psyched myself up to make that call to invite a classmate on a date. Pacing anxiously up and down the hallway, rehearsing my “lines” as I struggled to get it just right, finally approaching the phone with my heart in my throat only to turn away at the last second to regroup and try again.

What about your first driving test – wasn’t that fun? Or your first visit to the dentist – oh joy! And those nightmares paled in significance when down the road you found yourself impossibly tasked with coming up with some magical solution to ease the pain your daughter felt being dumped by her boyfriend. It is one thing to deal with your own broken heart but quite another to feel the helplessness of a well-intentioned father who only wants his child to be happy and safe but is ultimately at a loss.

Would you really voluntarily relive those moments all over again?

Being young is wonderful but it is only one stage of life. Obsessing over what you could have been or should have done will not change where and who you are today. Don’t waste the possibilities of today to dwell on a yesterday over which you have no control.

I prefer the glass half full perspective when it comes to expectations of what lies ahead. Rather than fret about the things I may not have accomplished to this point I try to focus on what I can do or become or experience. For retirees our second act can be a second chance. Why not pursue dreams of your youth now that you are blessed with unlimited time and relative independence? Accepting that you are getting older does not mean you must surrender meekly. Retirement can be your time to add excitement and new adventures to your life resume.

We cannot change the past and we may not know what the future holds but we can live in this moment and make the best of it. Rather than obsess over what could have been its better to obsess over what still might be. And enjoy!