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Finance and Legal

Planning For Retirement

Reviewed by: MySeniorCare Staff
Last Updated: 4/13/2010 3:22:01 PM

Planning for retirement depends on many factors. First and foremost, your plan must revolve around your own personal situation.

Not everybody is wealthy, nor does everyone have a spouse to share their retirement plan. Who can plan for unexpected life events that turn everything upside down? The movie About Schmidt demonstrates this perfectly. And what is retirement anyway? Some choose early or semi retirement, while others refuse to retire. It all depends on how you want to live your life.

For those who are working hard, achieving goals and looking forward to an active and satisfying retirement life, proper planning well before you stop work can produce a better existence and a higher degree of freedom and contentment. Here are some things you should consider:

Retirement Expectations

Make sure your retirement expectations are realistic. Evaluate what you can and can't achieve. Simplify your life before retirement so you can afford to accomplish most of your aspirations. Discuss retirement issues with your spouse/partner and your family to avoid disagreements in the future. This can include how often you offer childcare, or giving notice to a resident adult child to move out of home so you are not tied to family arrangements that will prevent you from enjoying your anticipated lifestyle.

If you work and go out to eat three times a week, do it once and put the saved money in a "retirement getaway fund." Cut back on any expenditure that isn't absolutely necessary and add that to the fund. Review every aspect of your present life so you can downsize well before retirement. This will ensure a smooth transition to a significantly different lifestyle.

Gain the support of your partner to formulate a mutually satisfying retirement Lifestyle Plan. Each person should list 20 things they would like to achieve. Choose two things from each list to do each year. That should keep your life adventurous for some time, or you can re-visit the exercise at the beginning of every year to include new choices.

Financial Planning

Start as early as you can to plan for a financially secure retirement. Navigating the huge number of choices available for retirement investment can be so daunting that some people can't deal with it. Engage a trusted financial adviser to assist you to formulate a sound Financial Plan. Put as much money as you can into your retirement fund and investments. As retirement approaches, downsize your "empty nest" and move to a smaller home to free up capital. Know what your income will be when you retire so you can get the best out of life after work. Do a budget that caters for basic living costs and retirement activities and review your financial situation at least annually.

It is important not to overlook health insurance as a vital part of your financial plan. As one ages, more things can go wrong and this can become a budgetary nightmare. Make sure you have sufficient health insurance to provide for any future health problems.

If you are a caregiver to a loved one, what will happen if you can no longer look after them? Factor in the appropriate level of caregiver insurance to your financial plan so a paid carer can fulfill your role if you can't.

If you are not in a strong financial situation as retirement approaches (not everybody can be), it is possible to organize a fulfilling existence that doesn't depend on money. Use your imagination and research skills to plan a life within your means that will make you contented. Start a small, home-based business to boost your resources. A market stall can become a great new way of life that has both financial and social advantages. Setting up a home maintenance service can produce living costs so savings stay intact. Don't aspire to things you can't afford to avoid dissatisfaction with your life.

Health & Fitness

Health and fitness are important aspects of retirement. Don't sit around the house when you can get out and about. Walking costs nothing and group exercise in a nearby park is free. Organized local fitness activities will provide opportunities to meet new friends. If your health permits, take up hiking, fishing or other active outdoor pursuits. Continue to play golf or swim if this has been your regular fitness regime.

Pay attention to diet and resolve to stay healthy so you can get the best out of life. Make a Health Plan as well as a financial plan. Start a pattern of regular medical checks to ward off uninvited health issues. Think healthy, act healthy and be healthy!

If you have an existing health problem or disability, don't let this stop you from enjoying retirement. Arrange travel and activities within the scope of your personal situation. Make sure you interact with as many people as possible to make life interesting.

Emotional Well-Being

Retirement brings many lifestyle changes that can produce emotional turmoil if not managed correctly.

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Make sure you consider the emotional side of retiring by knowing what your life will consist of well before you finish work. A sound overall retirement plan should ensure your emotional well-being. Don't be embarrassed or afraid to join a support group or seek counseling if you need help during the transition period.

Retirement Travel

If travel is to be your thing in retirement, work out the most cost-effective way to explore new and interesting places. Overseas travel is not the only option. Each country has its own beautiful locations that a lot of people take for granted and don't visit during their working life. Put together a Travel Plan and research places you'd like to visit and prepare well ahead to have an interesting life away from home, at least once or twice a year.

Your own recreational vehicle could be the most cost-effective way to explore your country in detail. Tourist parks offer reasonable rates for overnight or longer stays. Travel with another retired couple to halve the cost of trips.

For those who are financially able to consider overseas travel, plan ahead to take trips to far-off places and don't leave this until you are too old to enjoy the experience. Also, make sure you have adequate travel insurance.

Social Interaction

Social interaction is essential. A retiring person can go from being part of a team at work and having lots of friends to being isolated. Seek out new activities prior to retirement. This way you will meet new acquaintances with similar interests and the lifestyle transition won't be so daunting.

If you are single, you probably have friends in the same situation with like interests. If not, seek out activities to do and organizations to join so you can expand your social contacts. Couples need to discuss the types of social activities they will be part of in retirement. Make sure you do some things alone and some with your partner to keep a happy balance.

If your financial situation dictates that you spend most of your retirement at home, join a group that organizes economical trips and outings. Get involved in as many things as you can to widen your sphere of social interaction. Enroll in a study course to keep your mind active. These are often sponsored by colleges and other organizations that focus on retirement learning.

It's your ingenuity, state of mind and attitude that will be one of your greatest assets in retirement.

Community Involvement

Community involvement is not everyone's cup of tea, however, a lot of retirees will tell you that volunteering has opened up their lives to many satisfying experiences. What you give often comes back to you ten-fold, so get out there and help others who need your assistance.

Home-Based Activities

If you haven't had time during your working life to have hobbies, decide which ones you will take up. It is important for retiring couples to give each other space. Have some hobbies in common and some you do on your own.

Share household chores with your partner. Set up a timetable that varies from week to week to avoid boredom. Work as a team to spend as much time as possible in leisure pursuits instead of hanging about the house. Organize regular home entertainment with family and friends. If your social group includes other retirees, get together for a monthly dinner/barbecue at alternating homes.

Retirement is not the beginning of the end. It should be the start of one of the best periods in your life. It is what you make of it even if your circumstances are below what your would wish. Plan to get out and enjoy life in the way that suits your own personal ideals and situation. Be happy and positive - smile a lot and live each day like it is an exciting adventure.

Opt for high adventure - not household hum-drum!

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