From health to long-term family responsibilities to finances, it's best to anticipate that most, if not all, aspects of your life will change when you retire. While you'll no doubt enjoy the freedom and opportunities that come with retirement, it also comes with some challenges. Use this retirement checklist to get started on planning for life as a retiree.
1. Envision Your Retirement Lifestyle
Getting ready for retirement includes considering your vision for a perfect life as a retiree. Think about what you want your daily activities to include when you're retired. Some common retirement lifestyle goals might include:
- Relaxing at home, gardening or working on that household project you've been putting off.
- Visiting family, friends and new destinations.
- Pursuing new passion projects, pastimes or hobbies.
- Starting a business, consulting or working part-time.
- Caring for elderly parents or young grandchildren.
- Volunteering for a cause that's close to your heart.
2. Start Living on Your Retirement Budget Before Your Retire
For most people, retirement doesn't just affect how you spend your time — it also affects your finances.
One of the key activities involved in getting ready for retirement is reviewing your financial plan and how well-prepared you are to live your ideal lifestyle. If the coronavirus pandemic or other recent events have impacted your retirement savings, it's better to be aware of that sooner rather than later so you can make adjustments to your savings contributions, your expected retirement expenses, and your current and future lifestyles.
Also consider issues such as retirement plan withdrawals, pension payments and when you should begin taking Social Security benefits.
3. Get Ready for Retirement Time Management
Once you retire, your time becomes your own, and for many, this is a dramatic shift. When you're working full-time — and even prior to that as a student — your day is defined by structure, so it may be as many as 60 years since your time was your own!
Some retirees may love this lack of structure, but others might find themselves getting frustrated and feeling lost without a schedule or routine. Be sure when making your retirement checklist to include figuring out a schedule. Do your best to work out a rough plan of how you'll spend your days and weeks.
Perhaps you start your day with a morning dog walk, coffee on the patio or reading your favorite newspaper or website. Replace time spent on work projects with craft or hobby projects and schedule golf games, hiking adventures or regular concert and museum outings with friends and families in place of work meetings. Don't worry — you don't need a complicated "Retirement To-Dos" checklist. Just jot down a few ideas about what a regular day or week could look like for you.
4. Choose a Hobby or Pastime to Pursue
Maybe you always wanted to learn how to ski or start gardening, yet you never got around to it when you were working. Getting ready for retirement means it's time to start checking some of these items off.
Make a plan to sign up for lessons or workshops and invest in the supplies you'll need to start your new retirement hobby. This will give you something to look forward to, especially if you feel a bit anxious about retirement or believe your identity has mostly been defined by your work role for many years.
5. Consider Long-Term Care and Lifestyle
With increasing life expectancies, your retirement years could easily last 25 years or longer, and this means that as you progress from being a young retiree to becoming older, your retirement lifestyle will likely need some adjustments.
Depending on your home and your preferences, your retirement checklist could include items such as:
- Downsizing to a smaller home.
- Planning a future move to a one-floor home.
- Budgeting for aging-in-place accommodations such as a personal nurse or help with cleaning and yard maintenance.
- Planning a future house sale and move to a retirement community or nursing home.
Don't forget to include transportation on your retirement checklist. Once you and/or your spouse retire, you might find you can save money by selling a second family car.
6. Plan Family Outings, Events or Trips
Retirement is meant to be a time to enjoy all the activities that you might not have had as much time for when you were working, and one of those may be spending time and traveling with family. Plan adventurous trips or activities that require physical energy and stamina for early in your retirement when your energy levels and health are better.
You'll get to spend more time with your loved ones and it may turn into the perfect time for you to share stories with grandchildren about your own childhood or what life was like when their parents were growing up.
7. Prepare for the Unexpected
Life doesn't always go as planned, and your retirement years are no exception. Unexpected medical diagnoses, relationship changes and family emergencies can impact your retirement lifestyle and your finances. Protect your family from possible financial damage by considering options such as life insurance or an annuity. A financial advisor can help if you're not sure about the best plan for your situation.
Your Retirement Is in Your Hands
Don't wait until the first day of your retirement to figure out how you'll spend this season of your life. Instead, get ready for retirement by starting to plan now.
Create a loose routine or schedule that includes some of the activities or passions you've dreamed of exploring. Keep on top of your finances, and test-drive your retirement budget before you're on a fixed income to get used to the change. Make time to make memories with family and friends and consider how your environment will need to change as you age.
Doing so will help you have a more secure and fulfilling retirement and more peace of mind now as you approach this new stage of your life.