When you’re planning for retirement, you already know that finances are an important consideration. But if you want to be financially ready and happy with your life, there are other things you have to plan for.
There is a wide range of factors to consider before you retire. From where you want to live to who you want to surround yourself with, you have a lot to think about.
It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, though. Actually, planning for your golden years after so many decades of hard work should be fun.
Follow these tips to set your retirement goals and get ready to focus on the real work: enjoying life on your terms!
1. Put Your Health First
No matter how regimented your future planning is, if you end up getting significantly sick, your plans will change.
Some chronic illnesses and diseases are not preventable, of course, but they can be managed. Others can be avoided or stopped early with regular care.
It’s important to educate yourself about diseases that run in your family. Just because you’re predisposed to a condition like diabetes or heart disease doesn’t mean you’re stuck getting it.
A lot of health problems are avoidable with proper nutrition and exercise. Schedule regular wellness visits and listen to your physician’s advice. Eat well and get enough physical exercise.
Those actions will help deter many debilitative diseases, but not all of them. Be proactive before you get sick, too. Plan for future illnesses by caring for your health and getting life insurance. It’s cheaper and easier to get a policy when you’re healthy.
2. Learn About Finances Yourself
Relying on someone else to handle your finances can turn scary. Something may happen to them or they may ask you to make a decision on your own. Without a proper understanding of money, you could end up making some serious financial mistakes.
No matter what stage of your life you are in, it’s never too late to get a handle on your finances.
On your own or with the help of a trusted financial advisor, evaluate your budget. Is there anything you need to do differently before you retire? Are rates for mortgage refinancing good enough to take advantage of? Are there some bills you can pay off or extra income that could be allocated into a retirement fund?
When you’re comfortable dealing with economic choices, you can take decisive action. Don’t be afraid to take risks, but don’t do it without educated advice.
3. Choose Your Location Carefully
Where you retire is almost as important as how you plan financially.
Think about what you need in your daily life. Are there doctors you have to be near? Family members you want to live close to?
Or, if you had the complete freedom to choose, is there one place you’d love to live and never had the chance?
Make a list of the necessities in your life, like healthcare, loved ones, and amenities. Before you decide to buy a home somewhere, make sure everything on your list is covered.
Don’t settle for a place where you aren’t going to have the things that make you happy.
4. Set Goals
Goal-setting is important when you retire. Just because you’re not getting up and heading to work every day doesn’t mean you should let the days blur in front of you.
Keep track of bucket list adventures you want to do now that you have free time. Jot down all of the hobbies you’ve always wanted to try and couldn’t.
Set short-term and long-term goals so you always have something to work towards.
5. Pay Off Debt
It seems like we spend most of our lives amassing debt and then trying to pay it off. According to Debt.org, the average person purchases a home and at least five cars before they retire. They also incur tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt.
It’s common to fall into debt when you’re young. For some people, it’s even necessary in order to keep a roof over their family’s heads. The important thing is to start paying it off before you retire, so you’re not stuck making payments throughout retirement.
If you haven’t started yet, start paying off your debts and working to increase your FICO credit score.
Then, when you’ve moved up into the next FICO bracket, refinance current loans with lower interest rates. This will let you get rid of your bills faster while staying at your current monthly payment.
6. Plan Your Time
Goal-setting is important for your future, but having a full schedule each day is also necessary.
Without plans for the day, it’s easy to fall into depression. Finding hobbies and staying busy will help you avoid this.
Know what you want to do daily, weekly, and monthly. Make it a goal to keep a full schedule with periods of rest so you don’t wear yourself out.
7. Set a Routine
You may be looking forward to retiring and doing what you want, when you want. But experts say you still need to stick to a routine.
Routines keep our bodies and minds fresh. Don’t fall into the trap of sleeping all day and staying up all night. It will quickly confuse your brain and will affect your physical and mental health.
Instead, set a routine where you get up, exercise, meditate, and work on your hobbies. When you look forward to each day, retirement becomes a reward for your years of hard work.
8. Find Ways to Give Back
One of the best ways to live a full life is to give back to others. Volunteering during retirement gives you a sense of purpose you might not have otherwise. This, in turn, promotes health and a long, happy life.
If you’re not sure where to start, put out your feelers. There are most likely hundreds of places near you in need of good help. What is your passion? Where would you love to give your aid to?
Volunteer your time at church, schools, missions, and pet shelters. Hospitals and nursing homes always need responsible help, too.
9. Grow Your Relationships
At the start of retirement, it may seem like all of your relationships change. It’s common. Everyone, from your friends to your family, will need time to adjust to this transition period.
Take some time to work through this uncertainty with your loved ones. Reassure them that you’re still you.
This is especially important with your significant other, since you may not be used to spending this much time together. Retirement is the perfect time to develop a new, improved bond.
If you’re interested in helping your family and friends, let them know. Be flexible and volunteer to pick up your grandchildren or run errands when others can’t.
As long as you set healthy boundaries, this will show everyone that your retirement is a positive thing, not something to be afraid of.
Planning early for your golden years takes the stress out of this big change.
Like having children, nothing will truly prepare you. But if you plan out your finances, take care of your health, and set goals, this transition will be easy.
Leon Grundstein has more than 28 years of experience in real estate development, with over two decades of experience in the retirement industry. He founded Tacoma Point Ruston with a game-changing business model to promote a healthy and robust retirement lifestyle for older adults.