5 Retirement Planning Must-Haves

To help assure a smooth transition into retired life it is important to take a close look at how well prepared you are. If you plan to retire at 65, you can typically expect to enjoy 20 or more years of retirement. No one wants to retire before they are ready, but if your finances are in order and you are anxious to make the move, it’s time to compare where you currently are with where you need to be to take your first steps toward a happy retirement.

For retirees to be, the first consideration is whether you have enough saved and invested to sustain your financial needs throughout your retired life. Not only do you need to have the basics covered, but you also want enough to live the lifestyle you choose and to do the things you have always wanted to. For greater peace of mind you can set aside funds to address unforeseen emergencies and unplanned cash needs which materialize all too frequently. The goal is to find a balance between working additional years to add to savings and getting started on your retirement journey as soon as possible.

Once you have enough money to retire, take a look at how prepared you are for the following:

What will you do? What you do to stay actively engaged will be a key component of the retirement happiness you experience. Before I roll into retirement I plan to compile a list of at least ten different activities and interests to keep me going during my second act. You may be able to get by with less or prefer more, but ten is a good starting point for me. The idea is to have a broad variety of interests to keep not just busy but actively involved and participating in each day. I believe it is important to choose activities that are dynamic and require you to think, calculate and stimulate your mind. Doing the same thing or following an identical daily routine may feel comfortable, but when you can basically run on auto-pilot there is not much challenge. My top five things to do in retirement are learning to speak French, improving my skills on the piano, continuing my blogging and writing efforts, becoming an expert at growing mouth-watering fruits and vegetables and what I call “historical travel,” where my wife and I thoroughly research the history, geography and culture of an area prior to embarking on a travel adventure.

Is your support network in place? As we age we will occasionally need help from those around us. Although many of us are proud of our independence and would prefer not to impose on others, we may need to at some point. When health and safety become a concern, a strong network of friends and family is of great value. We need others we can turn to not just in case of emergencies but also to assist in basic day to day functions. Having friends keep an eye out for our well being and offering the same in return is a good situation for all involved. Easy access to the nearest hospital and emergency care facilities is also an important consideration. An efficient public transportation system can be a blessing should driving become a challenge. As you prepare to retire, there may be specific areas in your support network that you need to beef up.

Will you retire in place or move? Living in the same home and neighborhood that you are already familiar with can be the perfect retirement for some people. Ideally the mortgage is paid off, you are friends with most of your neighbors and you know where all the best restaurants, stores and local attractions can be found. As long as you can safely maintain your independent living, retiring in place may be a high priority on your retirement checklist. For other people, retirement offers the opportunity to cash in on equity that has built over the years and move to some place new. Possible attractions include better weather, new surroundings to explore and new people to meet. A change in location can offer a fresh start and a new environment as you begin living your second act.

What insurance coverage do you need? As you age, one thing you can count on is increased expenditures for health care. More years lived means more things have the potential to go wrong. Health care coverage is a critical component of your retirement security. Don’t forget your teeth and eyes, which will likely need some attention along the way. Some people may want to consider long-term disability insurance to protect against what can be catastrophic expenses as the result of an extended illness. Those with estates may opt to help shield beneficiaries from inheritance taxes by purchasing life insurance in amounts that match expected fees to be incurred. With so many insurance options to consider, making the right choices for your individual situation is an important step in preparing to retire.

Do you have goals in retirement? Setting goals is not for everyone, but some people can benefit from a clear target to focus their efforts and energies. You may want to make preparations to leave behind a legacy for future generations or choose to contribute time and aid to worthy causes. Some people commit to improving their health now that they have time to dedicate to exercise and fitness. Setting a goal and measuring your success against its achievement can help to keep you on track and putting in extra effort to get it done.

From my blog for US News & World.

10 Components of a Happy Retirement

Financial preparations are an important component of any retirement plan. But money alone is not enough to live a satisfying retirement. Equally important is a plan to spend your time, develop relationships with others and maintain your health. Here are the important ingredients for you to realize the best possible retirement:

Enough money. Obviously, if you do not have enough saved and invested, you cannot realistically retire, at least not with the lifestyle you desire. But simply reaching a number in your retirement account is not the only aspect of retirement you need to plan for.

Having control over how you spend your time. One of the best things about being retired is the ability to decide what you want to do when you want to do it. This type of freedom is rarely experienced by those not yet retired. If you were to find yourself forced to live according to someone else’s expectations, retirement would be nothing more than an extension of your work years. But you get to leave behind other people’s rules as you begin to live your second act.

Spending quality time with family and friends. No longer finding yourself captive to boring meetings and meaningless interactions, you are now free to spend time with people you are actually interested in being with. And you are no longer limited to brief visits swinging monkeyssqueezed into a busy schedule. You have as long as you want to spend with whomever you choose.

Pursuing your passions, hobbies and interests. With the freedom to do as you choose, you can finally revisit the dreams and interests you were forced to put aside due to the demands of earlier life. And with enough interests and variety, you can prevent boredom and enjoy active stimulating days.

Giving back. Retirement can be your chance to express your charitable side and give back to society. Many retirees find volunteering to be a very rewarding experience. You are free to choose the causes most significant to you and make a difference in the lives of others.

Improving your relationship with your partner. Now that you have time to dedicate to the important matters in your life, the happiness of your spouse is an excellent place to start. You have time to spend with one another and rediscover the special person you fell in love with long ago. Although in some areas you may have changed over the years, some things never change.

Enjoying new experiences to broaden your horizons. You are no longer forced to live within the boundaries that defined the working you. The freedom to experiment and explore can open doors to interests you never knew you had.

Living a comfortable and safe life. Retirement is not always about searching for the next adventure. It also allows for the chance to relax, slow down and enjoy living at a pace more appropriate and comfortable for you. A balance between staying active and relaxing can keep you invigorated and ready for whatever comes your way.

Taking time for yourself. Downtime, the rarest of commodities for busy working folks, can now be yours in retirement. Taking time to think, relax, contemplate and dream can inspire you to live a more fulfilling retirement. Just remember that it is up to you to set aside the time and take advantage of your situation.

Maintaining good health. The freedom to do as you please affords the opportunity to refocus on healthy habits and practices. If you feel good it is easy to look forward to what the day has to offer. When it comes to healthy living, a regular routine that you can stick to can get you started in the right direction.

Assuming you are relatively satisfied with your nest egg and believe you can pay your way through retirement, it’s time to start thinking about the other aspects of retired life. In retirement you finally get the chance to do things your way. Make sure you include a plan for your health, relationships and passions.

From my blog on US News & World.