Plan Ahead for Retirement With a Winning Game Plan
If you’re like most people, you’re probably imagining days of leisure; visiting loved ones; traveling; and lots of time doing all you’ve dreamed of, but never had time to fit in, as you contemplate finally making the transition into your retirement years. You want to plan ahead for retirement, but just be careful not to get ahead of yourself and get tripped up by your own feet. Before you hit that time clock for the last time and say your goodbyes to the workweek, you’ll need to make sure that you have a game plan for the future.
Of course, you’ve got to know how the bills are going to get paid before you can say goodbye to your paycheck. However, many retirees forget about the potential psychological and emotional challenges they could face when they’ve retired and are suddenly faced with alternatively filling their days. Some retirees may find the extra free time isn’t as happy as they imagined, but instead incites feelings of boredom, uselessness, depression, or isolation. Like any other major change that life holds, a smooth retirement transition clearly takes a lot of psychological, emotional, and financial preparation. Here are some steps that you can take to help make your transition into retirement as smooth as possible:
* Make sure your retirement budget is current – you might have made your retirement financial plans long ago, but you need to do one final budget check to ensure that you actually have enough funds to last you through your retirement years. Determine the amount of money you’ll need each month to maintain your current lifestyle over the next 25 to 35 years. If what you have isn’t congruent with what you expect you’ll need, then your retirement strategy might need an amendment. Such a scenario doesn’t mean all is lost. You could postpone a full retirement and only partially cut your work hours, add or change to a part-time job to continue building your nest egg, or consider an entirely new and exciting second career.
* Figure in health care expenses – you’ll need to have a sufficient amount of funds set aside to pay for health insurance, even if you have a retirement health plan available through your employer. Since the cost can be increased and availability terminated for these retirement health benefits at any time, you’ll need to have all your bases covered and be capable of paying for an alternative, possibly more expensive, health insurance policy.
* Stick around a little longer – it’s tempting to run for the hills immediately after your retirement announcement, but both you and your employer can benefit if you stay around long enough for your employer to hire and train a replacement for your position. Your employer will be very appreciative that you didn’t leave them with an employment void, and you will be able to make a more gradual and easier transition into retirement.
* Get a jump start on government aid – eligible retirees can wait 90 days or more for government aid, such as Medicare and Social Security benefits, to take effect. If you’re at least 65-years-old and are expecting to receive any government benefit, then make sure that you sign up for the benefits with the appropriate agencies several months before you actually retire.
* Plan for the emotional and psychological pitfalls of retirement – you can help yourself avoid feeling bored or isolated by planning how you’ll stay active and fully enjoy the rewards of retirement. Make a list of the feasible hobbies; recreational activities; classes; groups, clubs, or committees; volunteer work; and other activities that you’d like to pursue. Remember to pick meaningful activities that make you feel happy and help give your life a sense of purpose, not just keep you busy. You might also ask your employer if they offer an alumni group to help you stay in contact with your former coworkers.