By Catherine Powell
Ask anyone who’s done it and they’ll tell you that retirement isn’t for sissies. That’s because after socking away funds and clearing the way to retire after working for decades, there are still many things that need to be accomplished before you can enjoy your golden years. That’s why I decided to devote this week’s blog to giving you the ten most important considerations to make if you want to make the most of your retirement.
1. It takes money, honey – Not only do you need to have sufficient funds to be able to support yourself for the next few decades, you need to plan for contingencies that may crop up down the road. That means doing things like making retirement funds your top priority and paying down debts before you cut the cord to earning power. It also means establishing an emergency fund that can be tapped for household needs, like when your central air conditioning unit or the roof needs to be replaced.
2. How’s your health? – One of the things that can quickly erode your financial assets are healthcare costs. Assessing the state of your well-being now as opposed to later could have a bearing on your financial health since healthcare costs are expected to do nothing but rise. This is also the time to consider taking advantage of things like long-term care insurance, supplemental Medicare insurance and dental insurance.
3. Should I stay or should I go? – While your home may be paid in full, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to live there until the day you die. Particularly if your current dwelling is larger than you need, it may be time to consider downsizing and moving to a smaller residence. Even things like staircases can be a problem to you in later years, not to mention the upkeep on a single-family house is far greater than that of a condominium. What many retirees don’t look at is the long-term consequences of living above their limited means. Making decisions today that can affect your finances down the road is the key to retirement success.
4. Where does the time go? – While you may not have to get up to go to work, if you want to really enjoy your retirement, you’ll need to plan something to do with your day other than watch TV. Most people don’t realize how much of their time is taken up with work until they retire. Then they discover a black hole that needs to be filled if they’re going to have a fulfilling retirement. Retirees with little to do are more likely to wind up depressed rather than relieved once they realize they have nothing on their hands but time. Better to consider in advance how to fill that void.
5. What’s on your bucket list? – While most people consider retirement to be the last mile to go in life, more and more look at it as the start of another chapter. If you’ve been hankering to pursue hobbies or travel to exotic destinations, planning to add these items to your retirement bucket list could be one of the more rewarding things you have to look forward to in the next ten years or so. Just bear in mind that more strenuous activities need to be planned for in the first ten years of your retirement. After that, your health may become a hindrance to doing more daring things.
6. Do you have something to share with the world? – Being retired doesn’t mean you have one foot in the grave. If you have experiences to share, there are many people who would be glad to pay to take advantage of them. Opportunities abound in teaching and online learning courses. If you’ve ever had a yen to write a book or a novel, retirement could be the perfect time to share your life experiences with the world.
7. Can you teach an old dog new tricks? – On the other hand, retirement also offers opportunities for you to learn. Whether it’s attending adult education courses or taking advantage of online universities, there are a multitude of new skills you can learn. If you’re thinking about traveling abroad, how much more enjoyable do you think it would be if you could speak the native tongue?
8. Can you turn a hobby into income? – While retirement savings and social security may provide you with enough to live on, if you’ve ever thought about starting a small business in your home, retirement could be just the ticket. Online crafts are hot items online. Not only don’t you have to spend a lot of money to open up shop, but with PayPal you can start selling what you produce without having to apply for a merchant account. Retirees can also make extra income by babysitting, pet sitting, tutoring or participating in ride-sharing services that let you work when you want.
9. Give yourself time to adjust. – Just as it took you months to adjust to a new job, retirement is going to take some getting used to. That means if you find yourself waking up at the same time you did when you worked or it takes time to adjust to being around your spouse 24/7, don’t let these changes throw you for a loop. Even the way you interface with family and friends will seem like entering a foreign country for a time. So too will dealing with former business associates and vendors who will continue to touch base with you for months after you hang up your hat. The best way to deal with all of these is to take a deep breath, smile and say, “I’d like to help you, but I’m happily retired.”
10. Plan your succession. – While Americans are living much longer on average than at any other time in our history, remember one salient fact: Nobody lives forever. That means you need to get your ducks in line when it comes to planning your future. Make sure you have a valid will and an estate plan that states in no uncertain terms what you want to happen were you to become incapacitated or die. While nobody wants to consider their mortality, all too many families are left blindsided by a death or medical emergency that leaves them in a legal limbo because their father or mother didn’t take the time to create a living will that would give their successors the power of attorney to deal with life’s uncertainties.
Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida. To find out more ways to save on flood insurance, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com/