7 Warning Signs Your Retirement is in Jeopardy

You probably have a few ideas about what life in retirement will look like. Unfortunately, nothing is guaranteed, and that fulfilling retirement you dream of may not turn out to be exactly what you had imagined. Retirement planning can be more effective if you are aware of some of the potential pitfalls you might encounter. Watch out for these retirement red flags:

You have not prepared for the possibility of a long life. People are living longer due to advances in science and medicine. There were 53,364 centenarians in the U.S. in 2010, a number that is projected to grow to more than 600,000 by 2050. If you are fortunate enough to be part of that growing number, you may want to plan for a longer retirement than what has historically been the norm. If you retire at 65, you could spend another 20 to 30 years in retirement. You don’t want to run out of resources when you still have years to live.

You and your spouse are not on the same page. It is helpful for couples to understand the expectations each of you has regarding retirement. You will do things together, and you will pursue your own individual interests. But each of your roles will change now that you could be together 24/7. Husbands retiring from a managerial role may find themselves tempted to utilize their skills to manage the household even though their spouse has successfully handled that for decades. If one partner is used to being at home with a
regular routine established, the introduction of an ever-helpful spouse can cause waves. It is just as important to have private time to pursue individual interests as it is to spend quality time together.

You have not yet considered what you will do to occupy yourself.While pursuing a career that likely spanned 30 years or more, much of your daily life and routine was dictated by the job. Interaction with others and recognition for your efforts likely gave meaning to your days. However, when you retire, you get to decide how your hours will be occupied. The good news is you can choose to do whatever you wish. The challenge is if you have not thought ahead, you may run out of ideas before too long. While you may be able to keep busy, it can be more challenging to find meaningful activities that make the moments spent worthwhile.

You are not taking care of your health. The basic challenges of everyday life tend to get more difficult as we age. However we can do our best to reduce the impact of aging by living a healthy lifestyle, watching what we eat, exercising regularly and avoiding excesses. If we do not do our part to maintain our physical health, we may not be as well prepared to fully experience what retired life has to offer.

You try to do everything on your own. We have lived an independent life to this point. It can be challenging to hand over the reins to someone else, but we will likely sacrifice some part of our independence as we age. You probably won’t be able to do everything yourself in retirement. Make sure that you set up a support system for your later years when help is likely to be increasingly necessary.

You feel impatient with everything. The elderly are seldom renowned for exhibiting excess amounts of patience. The hard truth is that aging is a challenge. Ideally, we will learn to cut those around us a little slack and smile once in a while, even though we may feel like screaming. If every little thing rubs us the wrong way, not only will retirement be a painful time, but we may find ourselves alone when few people choose to tolerate our rantings.

You resign yourself to let life pass you by. You may start to find yourself thinking, “I am too old for this.” Sure, you cannot do everything you used to at 20, but there is still much that you are capable of doing. My aunt, at 72, just returned from three weeks in Russia, and has penciled in a two week safari in Africa a few months down the road. My 82-year-old parents were cutting a rug at my daughter’s recent wedding, showing us youngsters how it is done. At 88, Michelangelo was still working on St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. It’s not over until it’s over.

From my blog on US News & World. Dave Bernard is the author of “I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be“. Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.

A Quick Retirement Planning Checklist

No one knows better than those who have recently entered retirement the many moving parts and challenges that go into living a fulfilling retired life.  If we have prepared the way and taken those steps to facilitate the lifestyle we hope to live, we can reasonably hope that our retirement will be that wonderful time when we are free to do what we want to whenever we want. It may not all be smooth sailing but if we can pursue those passions that inspire us, if we can enjoy those travels that enrich our existence, if we are fortunate enough to maintain our physical and mental health into our later years, this second act might just be fun. It’s all in the planning.

What can we do to help prepare the way to allow us to successfully navigate the retirement jungle that awaits? How can we get a jump on the game?

(1) Understand what retirement means to you and your partner

Before you get there, it is helpful to know how each of you perceive the retirement-to-be that you will share. Discuss your individual vision of your second act. Figure out those interests that you share as well as those you want to pursue individually. Along with doing things together, having your own interests can enrich the experience days. Try to figure out your “retirement personality”. Do you see yourself perpetually busy doing all you can with every available moment? Or are you happy to take things easier and smell the roses along the way? Do you see some form of work in your retired life? Just what will the post-work-you actually look like? Open discussion along these lines can help a couple to enter into and share retired life more fully.

(2) Be sure you can afford to retire

There are different schools of thought when it comes to how much you will need to retire. Some recommend that you save at least 80 percent of your pre-retirement income to maintain the standard of living to which you are accustomed. Another rule of thumb is to build a nest egg large enough to allow you to withdraw a maximum of four percent each year to live the lifestyle you want. Whatever model you choose to follow, it really comes down to estimating as accurately as possible what will be your expenses based upon the lifestyle you hope to live and comparing those to your sources of income and savings. To keep it interesting, let’s throws in a few wild cards, the first being just how long you will live and the second what will happen with healthcare costs as the 75 million strong baby boomer generation ages. With average longevity increasing, you want to be realistic and somewhat conservative to avoid the possibility of outliving your savings.

(3) Be optimistic but be realistic

Despite our best efforts, even if we workout every day and eat healthy every meal, time will eventually begin to take a toll. We can expect to slow down, we may notice some difficulties with what were once basic tasks, our memory may trick us and our perfect eyesight abandon us, but it is all part of the journey. I think that if we can attempt to consider some of the less-than-wonderful possibilities before they occur, we may be better prepared or at least not blindsided by the unexpected. Try to think about it, to get a feel for it, and talk it over with your partner who will ideally be there with you for better or worse.

(4) Take care of your affairs

No one wants to leave their bills and debts to be paid by their family. Yet if you do not make preparations ahead of time that may be the case. Term life insurance – such as that offered by Select Quote.com – is an affordable way to cover your bases and make sure the already stressful time of your passing is not compounded. Prepare a will that specifically expresses how you may want your estate divided. Whatever you can do ahead of time will not only help assure your final wishes are fulfilled but also give your heirs one less detail to think about.

A little planning can go a long way to help you successfully navigate the retirement jungle. As the blog says, retirement is only the beginning.

Tips for Retiring in Tough Economic Times

Numbers do not lie – economic times are tough and unfortunately senior citizens are stuck in the middle of it all.

From plumeting home values to shrinking 401ks, from rising medical costs to insufficient retirement nest eggs, the future can look pretty bleak. And many senior citizens are effectively “stuck in place” – they no longer have the time or resources to replace depleted savings.

That is why it is so important to begin retirement planning BEFORE you retire. Plan now to identify potential problems while you still have time to make corrections to your course. Set goals for retirement and stick to them.

Obviously finances will be an important consideration so start now getting into the mindset of saving money in retirement.

And we should not expect to do it all on our own – we need to enlist the aid of our support network of friends and family. Here are a few insightful tidits of retirement advice from current retirees.

For some additional ideas to help cope with challenging times, take a look at this weeks US News & World blog Retirement Planning in a Volatile Economy

Welcome to the rollercoaster!