Your friends are all talking about the next life stage: retirement. It's fast approaching and while they're busy discussing travel options, looking at new places to live, and getting their finances in order, you haven't even begun to think about retirement, much less plan it. Before you panic about your lack of preparedness, take a deep breath and a break from all the chatter. These ideas will give you some pre-retirement strategies to consider so you can feel confident about your future and get on with life in the present.
It's easy to compare yourself with your plan-happy friends, but take this advice: Don't go there. Retirement is different for everyone and there's no right or wrong way to approach it. Just because some people are organized about their future right down to the last detail doesn't mean you have to be. Comparing causes frustration and anxiety. Instead, concentrate on you, not just your wishes, dreams, and desires for the future but getting comfortable with the idea of it first.
You may not be ready to make big plans and decisions about retirement, but you can take baby steps to get the ball rolling. A good place to start is to talk about it with your spouse, partner, or even yourself. Examine what you want your retirement years to include, whether it be travel, exploring a new hobby, or more time with the grandkids. Jot down ideas and mull them over. Time spent talking and reflecting can create excitement and move you toward the next step of planning.
If you don't have a financial advisor, find one and make an appointment. Establishing this relationship is especially important in the years leading up to retirement. A financial advisor can help you decide when and how you should retire by plugging in numbers to determine what's needed for your comfort level. Since money plays a crucial role in retirement, a professional who deals with retirement planning specifically and has a good reputation are important, so choose wisely.
Family and friends can be key to happiness and well-being during retirement. Take time to consider your support base as part of your future retirement plans. If your adult children are unsettled and you'd like to live nearby, you may want to wait it out to see where they make permanent residence. The same goes for friends. Even though you're bound to make new ones through the years, your dear longtime pals can factor into your retirement decisions, too.
For many people, quitting their job is what they look forward to most in retirement. But not everyone feels that way. If work brings fulfillment and joy, you may decide to put off retirement, work fewer hours, or get a part-time position. Work can be highly rewarding, so don't let the thought of losing that piece of your life hinder your ability to plan retirement or even start the process. Bottom line is you don't have to stop working if you don't want to--ever.
Travel is a popular activity during retirement but not a mandatory one. Still, having the freedom to see parts of the country or world may spark your interest whether you have a passion for travel or not. The years preceding retirement are great ones to begin exploring new places. Even short weekend trips can reap big benefits by giving you a taste of the fun and variety involved in travel. And that can make preparing for retirement more clear-cut and appealing.
Remember, planning for retirement is personal and unique to everyone. How and when you go about contemplating and deciding on retirement matters is up to you. If you're a last-minute type, so be it. There's no need to feel guilty about the approach you take. The most important thing is for you to enjoy this time of life that you've earned. Retirement planning should be an exciting, stress-free endeavor and one that's done in a way that fits your lifestyle and personality.
Not having a plan in place for retirement doesn't mean you won't have a successful one, but you can apply some strategies now to help ensure you do. Consider the above ideas and learn how to prepare yourself mentally and practically for the future, so you can enjoy retirement your way and in your timing.