When you start thinking about retiring, what comes to your mind? Maybe you dream of endless days of freedom to relax and catch up on all those good books you’ve had piling up in a corner. Maybe you’d like to learn how to play tennis or perfect your golf swing?
Regardless of how you’ll choose to spend your time, retirement can be the time to start fresh as you withdraw from your regular, hectic life and into a new routine. Are you ready?
One of the first steps to knowing if you’re ready for retirement is to evaluate your financial needs. According to a Wells Fargo survey in 2013, over 70% of retirement-age adults actually plan to work during retirement because they won’t be able to afford a full retirement. You can start collecting Social Security benefits at age 62, but your benefit is reduced five-ninths of one percent for every month you are younger than age 65. Also, Medicare won’t kick in until age 65, so make sure you have a plan to cover your healthcare costs if you retire before then. Sometimes, semi-retirement, or working just part time, can help provide more financial stability and an easier transition into full retirement.
Another step to knowing if you’re ready for retirement is to have a plan set for all your newfound free time. If there are things you think you’ll want to do when you retire, make a list of them and consider how much time you spend on them now. If you’d like to write the next great American novel, for example, but to date you’ve never written more than a few paragraphs at a time, think about how realistic that goal actually is. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be open to new experiences- retirement can be the time to learn new skills like how to play a musical instrument, start a vegetable garden or take some classes at the local community college. But if you’ve spent most of your life being a workaholic, figure out ahead of time how to apply that same energy into retirement.
Finally, along with being financially and emotionally ready for retirement, make sure you have a support system in place for this next phase of your life. Consider your spouse’s feelings, too. It can be common for one person in the marriage to retire early, so make sure your expectations for each other are on the same page. Get some opinions and experiences from colleagues who have already made the transition to a retirement lifestyle.
Get Ready to Retire!
The bottom line is that if you have a plan and goals in place for the financial, emotional and social aspects of retirement, this stage of life can offer some of the best years possible.