10 Things to Do Before Retirement

Retiring is the biggest life transition that many of us will face. How you choose to invest your time will define your success in retirement. Gracefully aging is an art form that we all have to try and master. To help you on your journey, I’ve created a list of 10 things to do before you retire.

1. Jump Out of a Plane

Okay, so you don’t need to jump literally out of a plane, but what would happen if you did? Skydiving is a life-defining experience where you’d be forced to think about the things you never did or the kind of person you wish you had been. Retirement is a time to focus on what’s important to you and how you want to be remembered. How you invest your time in retirement will influence how fulfilled and satisfied you feel. Let’s jump! (For more, see: 4 Mistakes to Avoid with Your Retirement Plan.)

2. Let the Kids Handle It

Hopefully, by now you can sense my sarcasm. You don’t want your affairs to be a mess that your kids have to clean up after you’re gone. So before you decide to leap into retirement, make a list of the valuable and meaningful belongings in your home that you don’t want to lose. Being proactive and organized will not only help your kids, it will give you comfort in case of a fire, flooding, etc. Get organized and go digital. The hope is that nothing bad will happen and ideally, you will finally know where everything is.

3. Imagine Life Without Your Spouse

There are things in life that are not enjoyable to think about and yet, we need to be prepared. If you’re married or have children, you need to prepare for the inevitable. We’re all going to die someday. You need to be prepared financially and emotionally. Those who have open conversations with their partner, family, and trusted advisors tend to have a much easier time coping. By talking early, you can ensure you and your spouse are on the same page in case tragedy strikes.

4. Fire Your Financial Advisor

Please don’t actually fire them, not yet anyway. But you should evaluate your relationship(s). Are you currently satisfied with the support your advisor is providing? Do you have more than one advisor and is that a good idea? The further you get in retirement, the more you will rely on your advisor. You’d better find one that’s focused on supporting you and is not going to retire with you or at least, has a succession plan that you are comfortable with. (For related reading, see: 6 Life Events That Call for Professional Financial Advice.

5. Ignore Death and Taxes

As the old saying goes, there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. We can’t ignore them forever. It’s time to get serious about your estate plan and your taxes. And yes, it will likely cost you money. Spend the money to meet with an estate planning attorney who can review what you have or, for many people, create what you don’t.

And make sure you work with someone who specializes in estate planning, not the do-anything family lawyer. When that’s done, it’s time to get a solid understanding of what your tax situation is and what it will be in retirement. Bite the bullet and upgrade to a CPA who can help you understand what changes are coming and help you plan for them appropriately.

6. Work Out Like It’s 1980 Again

I’ve got some bad news for you. Healthcare costs are skyrocketing and there isn’t one thing you can do about it. Well there is one thing: get healthy! Unfortunately, you can’t control Obamacare, government healthcare, Medicare or the prices at your local hospital. What you can and should do is focus on what you can control: your health. It’s time to hire a personal trainer, join a gym and eat healthily. If you don’t take control of your health, it will be impossible to predict what healthcare costs will be.

7. Go Fly a Kite

I mean that in the nicest way possible. What you need to do is find some hobbies. While you probably can’t imagine it now, come retirement, you will have more time than you know what to do with. Try to remember what makes you tick and think about how you can preserve or increase those habits in retirement. When you retire, you may experience a sense of loss when it comes to your responsibilities, social networks and sense of purpose. Plan ahead and try a few new hobbies or resurrect the hobbies you had before you were too busy to do them. 

8. Teach the Old Dog New Tricks

Despite what they say, it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Sound familiar? The only way to counteract the stereotypes of aging is to keep your mind active. Take a class at a local university or finish 16 crossword puzzles before you get out of your pajamas. Let your curiosity take you to places you never imagined. Just make sure it’s a priority to exercise your mind. (For more, see: What to Do to Prepare for Retirement.)

9. Get a Twitter Account #YesImSerious

Twitter? What is a tweet anyway? The only reason you’re on Facebook is because your granddaughter set it up for you. Alas, two of the most important parts of aging are staying connected and challenging yourself. So make some new friends, push yourself, and think of how priceless your granddaughter’s face will be the first time you tweet at her. #Grandpasgotgame #Grandmasselfiegameisstrong. If you’re averse to social media, find other ways to get involved and stay connected with your friends and family. Don’t become a hermit. (For more, see: 3 Costly Retirement Account Mistakes to Avoid.)

10. Give it All Away

You can’t take your money with you. Even if you live until you’re 100, chances are you will have some left over. Heck, it doesn’t even need to be money that you give away. Get involved in your community and lend a helping hand. Those who find a reason to give have a reason to live. And if you want to avoid leaving your family to fight over an inheritance, one of the best things to do is create memories with them. Take everyone on a cruise, splurge on a family celebration or set up some college funds.

I hope this has challenged you to think about your retirement in a new way. Chances are you haven’t thought too much about how you will invest your time in retirement. (Who has time for that?!) But it is a good thing to do and it can be fun.

More importantly, think about what your purpose will be in retirement. You have the ability, the resources and the desire to make it phenomenal. My advice is to find a trusted advisor who will listen to what excites you and makes you, you. Choose an advisor who will help you create a stable plan and make the right choices that will position you to seize your retirement with enthusiasm. (For more, see: Living Abroad in Retirement: Can You Afford It?)