You can see it on the horizon. Never-ending days of rest and relaxation. No stress. No pressure. No job. No worries. At least that's how many people picture retirement as they trudge off to work every day and dream about the future. Talk to retirees for a while and a new picture emerges. Boredom, financial worries, stock market jitters, a lack of purpose and even depression are often cited as post-retirement concerns. To avoid working all of your life and dreaming about retirement only to be disappointed when it arrives, you need to do more than just monitor the balance in your 401(k) plan. Find out what you can do to make sure that your retirement lives up to your dreams.
Manage Your Debt
If you don't want to worry about money after you retire, you need to take action well in advance of the day you expect to receive that gold watch and fond farewell. Because you're going to be on a fixed income after you retire and debt servicing can take a big chunk out of a fixed income, you need to retire your debts before you retire from your job. The easiest way to get started is to pay off those credit cards. If that's not possible, at the very least pay them down. Debt consolidation can help you with this effort.
Once the cards are under control, it's time to eliminate that car payment. Get yourself a good, solid set of wheels, so you can roll off into the sunset with years of carefree driving ahead of you. Next, it's time to tackle your housing needs. Paying for a place to live tends to take a huge bite out most paychecks, so making sure that your castle is paid for in-full is great way to manage a fixed income. If you can't afford to pay off your mortgage, consider the merits of moving to a less expensive place.
Build Up a Big Emergency Fund
Once the paychecks stop coming, the bills will continue to arrive. When you need a new car, a new hot water heater, or some expensive dental work, you don't want to have to worry about how you're going to pay for it. And you don't want to take a big chunk out of your nest egg to cover these costs. The best thing to do is plan in advance for those unexpected expenses.
Prepare for Medical Expenses
Evaluate your health and take care of any outstanding medical issues while you're still covered by your employer's healthcare coverage. If you're not sure how to cover the cost of healthcare during retirement, health savings accounts can help.
Without a doubt, you will need to make plans for healthcare coverage, if for no other reason than the fact that it's expensive. Consider long-term care insurance. No one is immune to the possibility of needing long-term care, and the costs can deplete a life savings.
Spending all day doing nothing sounds great until all day becomes all month or all year. Far too many people spend all of their working years working and don't make time to cultivate friendships and hobbies. This can lead to disappointment when retirement arrives and it turns out to be lonely and boring.
Just as you have to plan your finances, you also need to plan for the social and mental aspects of retirement. You can go back to school to study art or get a degree that you've always wanted. You can volunteer for a local charity. You can even work part-time. A part-time job can provide healthcare coverage in addition to income and opportunities to get out of the house and socialize.
Take Retirement for aTest Drive
A few years before you are ready to retire is the best time to see if the reality of retirement matches your dreams. By this stage in the game, you should have a good idea of how much money you'll have to work with and that you'll have to watch your spending. If you reach your golden years before achieving your savings goals, you'll need to have a strategy to ensure that you'll be able to retire at all.
To test out your retirement, it's time to start living as if you were already retired. Stop using those credit cards and pay all of your bills in cash for a few months. This is a great way to figure out how much money you're really going to go though. When the wallet is empty, you're out money. If you run out of money before you run out bills, you'll have to work out a tighter budget to help you stretch your money a little further.
It's also time to join a club or take up a new hobby. This little exercise will give you a preview of the life that awaits. If the experiment suits you, you'll have a good idea about whether retirement is something that you will enjoy.
The Bottom Line
If you're nearing retirement, spend some time thinking about how you want to live and what you can do to reach your retirement goals. As you approach retirement, continue to contribute to your goal and make adjustments to your plan. When retirement arrives, you'll be ready!
RetirementRetirement is going to cost a lot, and for homeowners who face a shortfall, their home can be a source of income. From downsizing to renting, here's how.
InvestingSavings is as crucial as ever, as we deal with life changes and our needs for the future. Here are some essential steps to get started, now.
ProfessionalsWomen are typically less prepared for the death of a spouse than men. An advisor can help mitigate some of the financial burdens widows may end up facing.
ProfessionalsThere are many reasons why folks in their 60s may want to keep working until at least age 70. Here are three.
RetirementTally up the costs associated with taking your retirement in Costa Rica, and determine whether you have what it takes to live in paradise.
BudgetingDon't let your baby's wardrobe derail your budget. These top tips help you to save money and spend wisely on baby clothes.
InvestingHow has the fitness industry's shift from multipurpose health clubs to specialized studios and budget gyms played out for SoulCycle and Planet Fitness?
RetirementHere's a guide to help you decide where you want to live after retirement.
Personal FinanceFinancial trends among college students are a cause for concern, prompting a renewed emphasis on financial literacy.
RetirementThe best cruise lines plan everything for you – the food, the entertainment and the itinerary. But pick a line with a compatible program and people.
Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) can be accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation ... Read Full Answer >>
As long as your retirement funds are held in your 401(k) and you do not take them as distributions, your 401(k) cannot be ... Read Full Answer >>
You have several options for reducing your debt burden. You can enroll in a professional debt management plan, or consider ... Read Full Answer >>
Filing bankruptcy is never a simple decision, but sometimes it is the best thing you can do in your current financial situation. ... Read Full Answer >>
The most impactful consumer protection laws and regulations in the United States are overseen by the Federal Trade Commission ... Read Full Answer >>
Though some states protect IRA savings from garnishment of any kind, most states lift this exemption in cases where the account ... Read Full Answer >>