Throwing away the alarm clock. Skipping the commute. Traveling the country – or the world. These are the things many people think about when planning their retirement – or, more aptly, what I like to call the “vacation” part of retirement.
While it’s entirely understandable that these aspects of retirement can be motivating or enjoyable to think about, they’ll actually only take up a small part of your time in retirement, perhaps four weeks. So what will you do for the other 48 weeks?
If you retire in your late 50s or early 60s, you might easily live enough 30 years or more. That’s a long time to be on vacation. And it will take a lot of money to be retired that long.
The reality is that there are many decisions that you should make to plan for the rest of your life. Here’s a list of the top 10 financial decisions you can make to improve your finances during retirement:
- When and how to retire
- When to start Social Security
- How to build your retirement income portfolio with savings and pensions (if applicable)
- What choices to make regarding medical insurance and Medicare
- Which living expenses to reduce
- Whether to deploy home equity
- How to protect against long-term care expenses
- How to protect against financial fraud and abuse
- How to provide for your spouse after you’re gone
- How to plan your financial legacy
However, you’ll do even better in retirement if you integrate the financial decisions listed above with some key lifestyle steps to improve your health, happiness, and life satisfaction. How will you spend 52 weeks of the year? To live long and live well, you’ll want to give serious thought to how you’ll remain relevant to your family, friends, community, and society.
Top on the list might be the interests, causes, and hobbies you want to pursue. You may want or need to work part time for awhile. For many people. playing with the grandkids might be a key activity.
As a result, here’s a list of the top lifestyle decisions you’ll need to consider:
- The general location you’ll want to settle in
- The specific home/community you’ll want to live in
- What steps you can take to enhance your health, including how to improve your nutrition, get proper exercise, manage your stress, get sufficient sleep, and reduce your unhealthy habits
- How to build your health care team
- How to develop your health metrics
- How to nurture your well-being
- How to develop your social portfolio
- What you can do to investigate working or volunteering
- How to plan your nonfinancial legacy
The fact is, if you retire before thinking about many of these decisions, you may be retiring too soon. The reality is that retirement in the 21st century will take a lot of planning. The worst thing you can do is to wing it when planning the rest of your life.
Want to learn more about each of these decisions and avoid making retirement mistakes? My recent book, Retirement Game-Changers: Strategies for a Healthy, Financially Secure, and Fulfilling Long Life, addresses all of these decisions. Each chapter identifies mistakes to avoid and strategies to consider.