Preparing for Retirement

The decision to retire may be one of the most important decisions you will make about your future. Get our free guide and start planning your retirement early

Preparing for retirement depicts elderly man and woman driving off in a blue convertible.

When you retire, one of the last activities you anticipate doing is to return to work.  Yet, that can happen if you have not prepared yourself for all the life changes that come with retirement.

Top 3 Questions People Ask About Retirement

As financial advisors, we focus on two dynamics when it comes to preparing clients for retirement. The first is helping them answer three primary questions about their retirement.

1) Will I run out of money?
2) Should I sell my house or downsize?
3) Can I afford to keep my lifestyle?

The other dynamic we help our clients prepare for involves the behavioral and emotional aspects of retiring. It is these six vital areas of focus that form the basis of this guide.

Six Vital Areas of Focus

When you retire, one of the last activities you anticipate doing is to return to work.  Yet, that can happen if you have not prepared yourself for all the life changes that come with retirement. Often, retirees make it through the honeymoon stage of retirement only to find themselves feeling bored and unfulfilled.  Naturally, finance plays a large role in retirement readiness, but other important pieces should be considered as well.

1. Activities

Activities can encompass work, volunteering, hobbies, travel, and more. Retirement shouldn’t mean that you are no longer busy. Before you retire, you should consider your current activities and determine if there are others you would like to add.

Will you travel or take on new hobbies? How many activities will you schedule? Are they physically demanding? You should contemplate what aspect of these activities you enjoy such as physical, social, intellectual, creative, or solitary to help you formulate a list.

Volunteering. If you prefer to give back to the community, consider what your strengths and talents are. Do you have skills you can leverage to help an organization? Consider how much time you would like to commit and at what level. Volunteering can be a highly rewarding activity provided you consider setting some personal limitations when working with different groups.

Work. Though you may have just ended your career, work may still be a possibility. If you choose to continue working, the questions you should answer are if you intend to continue in the same field, or if you would like to try something new.

To answer these questions, consider what type of personality you have. The type of work you select will be affected by whether your personality is conventional, enterprising, investigative, artistic, or social. Next, determine your motive for continuing to work. Is it income-driven, to create purpose, for social stimulation, status, or something to do to fill the time? Or is it a combination of these?

Finally, consider if your needs are best met by working full-time, part-time, consulting, or volunteering. By examining your personality and options, it may help you determine if working is an activity that would be helpful for remaining connected once you retire.

Hobbies. Since you’ll have more time for activities and hobbies, you’ll need to consider what your needs currently are and what they will be in the future. Taking up ballroom dancing may not be an activity that you’ll be able to carry on for a long time, especially if you have never been physically active in your younger years. Likewise, taking up scrapbooking may not offer you enough mental stimulation or physical activity if you are not used to sitting alone for hours. Take each hobby into consideration by listing the tasks, and pros and cons to help you plan your activities now and in the future.

Travel. Many people view retirement through rose-colored glasses and think they will travel the world once they retire. They even dream about all the places they will visit. The truth is, many never do because we don’t retire in a vacuum. Though you may no longer work, the other aspects of your life continue once you retire. Recognize that it is unlikely you will hit the ground running on an “around the world in 80 days” type adventure without a lot of advanced planning and preparation.

2. Your Wellness

There are a variety of well-known health factors that can create issues during retirement. They include weight, diet, sleep, exercise, stress, tobacco, and alcohol use. There’s never a better time than now to ask yourself what would you change and how would you change it?

Health is not the only factor that can affect your vibrancy throughout retirement. Harboring emotional baggage, grudges and negative feelings can be just as harmful to your vitality as dealing with physical needs, pain, and emotional issues. Consider that attitude is everything and it’s up to us to determine if we adopt a negative or positive outlook.

3. Your Relationships

When you retire, the relationships in your life will likely play a large role in your satisfaction. These relationships include those with a partner, spouse, parent, child, friends, and acquaintances.

Consider what you want to get out of your relationships. Do you want to spend more or less time together? Where do you go to meet people? How will your personality traits affect your current and future relationships as you continue to age?

Sometimes these relationships can create changes to your retirement plans, such as the birth of grandchildren, when an adult child moves back in, when a parent needs care and when friends need support. How much time you plan to invest in these relationships should be weighed against the other parts of retirement outlined in this guide.

4. Interaction With Others

Determining what you will do with your leisure time, with whom, and how is an important aspect of retirement happiness because it can be directly affected by your financial situation and health. Since you will have more time on your hands, you should decide what level of interaction you need or want in leisure.

When you retire, what will your interactions with others look like? Will you downsize, move into a community or split your time between residences? Will these changes affect your interactions with others? Consider what your personality type is. Some people are quite social, yet others prefer to be spectators, while others like creative, intellectual, or even physical pursuits. Someone more outgoing will need more interaction with outside sources than an introvert. Ensure that you and your partner value each other’s personality type so you can engage with others at your comfort level.

5. Personal Development

Personal development does not have to end simply because you retire. It’s important to continue to find meaning as you move into the retirement phase of your life.

Will you continue learning new things like languages and hobbies? Will you begin using online memory development tools? How will you learn these new things? Will you take courses, or do you intend to go back to school? Perhaps you plan to complete a previous goal.

Consider what you are passionate about and think about how this might change in the future based on the other parts of retirement outlined in this guide.

6. Finances

Generally, you can expect a third of your life to be left when you retire. This means that your preparations must be flexible enough to cover a large span of years. Retirement planning involves evaluating your current financial standing and creating an accumulation strategy that will help ensure a desired retirement lifestyle.

Business owners or executives may have access to other tax-advantaged retirement savings vehicles as well. A successful plan put into place during the wealth-building life span should address ways to maximize growth and tax-efficient distributions, as well as ways to leave retirement assets to the next generation.  There are several popular options to save for retirement:

  • Qualified employer-sponsored plans and 401(k)s
  • Individual retirement accounts (IRAs)
  • Annuities and pensions
  • Personal savings
  • Executive deferral plans

Withdrawal strategies of accumulated assets are paramount to any successful retirement plan. The correct distribution method will help ensure that your retirement savings last beyond your lifetime, and with minimum shrinkage from taxes. An advisor can help you formulate a “safety first” withdrawal strategy, analyzing the full range of sources available to you including social security and employer plans.

When it’s time to take distributions, it may appear to be a simple matter of selling a particular stock, but there is somewhat of an art to it. Determining which assets to liquidate and when to do so requires careful analysis of projected returns, income streams, and taxable consequences. That’s why it is always a good choice to consult with your advisor.

Will the Road Ahead be Smooth or Bumpy?

Retirement can be complicated and even scary.  Preparing in advance will go a long way toward ensuring happiness and fulfillment.  We hope you get some good takeaways from this guide and that you can move into retirement with a well-planned purpose and vitality. We are always happy to answer any questions you might have.  You can reach us at one of our convenient offices listed on our Contact page or by filling out the chat form below.

For more information, check out our case study on early retirement.

Learn about our 3P Approach© to financial planning

Read More

Accessibility Tools