Retirement is an exciting time filled with new opportunities and the free-time necessary to pursue your passions. When you retire, you’ll be able to live the life you want, and you’ll get to do the activities that make you happy. To make your retirement smooth and relaxing, it’s a good idea to spend the months leading up to the big day getting things ready. Before you officially retire, you’ll want to get your finances in order, and you’ll want to start creating a plan for how you’ll spend your retirement. Before you pack up your desk and cut the cake at your office’s retirement party, here are nine things that you must do to get ready for retirement.
1) Set-up and Test Out your Retirement Budget
When you’re a retiree, your finances might look different from what you’re used to now. Because of that, it’s a good idea to create a retirement budget before you retire. Calculate how much you’re expecting to get from your pension, Social Security, and investments each month. Then, put together your monthly budget. As you’re putting together your budget, make sure to leave room in there for the leisure activities you’re planning on doing during your retirement. To make sure your budget works for you, test it out before you retire. Stick to your retirement budget for a month or two, and if it’s not working for you, find ways to adjust it. When you do this, you’ll have a budget that you’re confident in by the time you retire.
2) Get Rid of Risky Items in your Financial Portfolio
The closer you get to retirement, the less risk you’ll want to take in your financial portfolio. When you’re in your twenties and thirties, you can afford to invest in some riskier stock options that have high rewards if they work out. However, when you’re just a few years from retirement, it’s best not to take these risks. A wrong move could result in you having a much smaller nest egg once you retire. When you’re near retirement, it’s best to invest in some lower-grade bonds. These may have lower return rates than other stock options, but they’re also not as risky. When you’re thinking about retiring, meet with your financial planner, and ask them to assess the risk profile in your portfolio. They’ll help you decide which items you should and should not keep.
3) See your Doctors
Before you leave your job, it’s a good idea to visit doctors that are covered under your employer-sponsored health insurance. Have your doctor do a check-up, and get all your prescriptions refilled. It’s especially important to do this if you wear glasses, have hearing aids, or need your teeth checked out. Medicare Part A and Part B do not cover routine dental procedures, like fillings and cleanings. They also don’t cover eyeglasses or hearing aids. When you go on Medicare, you’ll have to learn the ins and outs of the system, and you may have to find new doctors who take Medicare. If you see your current doctors before you retire, you’ll be able to wait a few months before you have to start figuring out your new healthcare, and any supplemental policies you may need.
4) Pay Off High-Interest Debt
Having to pay off debt can eat into your nest egg over the years. Because of this, try and pay off as much debt as you can before you retire. This is especially true for high-interest debt, like credit cards. If you can, try to make bi-weekly payments on your credit card in the months leading up to your retirement. Also, try and use the card as little as possible when you’re out and about. Also, try to pay off student loans and auto loans before you retire. This way, you won’t have to worry about paying the interest on those loans when you leave work. Try to find places where you can cut back a bit in spending each month, and put that extra money toward paying off your debts.
5) Plan how You’ll Spend your Time when you Retire
When you’re planning your retirement, think about how you’ll want to spend your days as a retiree. Do you want to mostly relax at home with your spouse? Or, are you hoping to set off across the country in an RV? Planning out how you want to spend your days will help you create a retirement budget that works for you. Plus, if you’re nervous that you’re going to be bored, planning out activities will help ease your worries. When you plan out activities, you’ll know that you’re going to have fun things to do as a retiree. You don’t have to plan every day of your retirement, but having a broad idea of how you want to spend your time will help you prepare financially and emotionally for your retirement.
6) Create a Retirement Social Network
If you’re someone who tends to mostly socialize with your co-workers, you might want to start creating a broader social network before you retire. When you leave work, it will get harder to connect with your co-workers, and you may end up drifting apart over time. Before you retire, try to make connections with people who are also retired or about to retire. This way, you’ll have people to spend time with on the weekdays. Try joining a local book club or a gardening club. Or, take a few classes at your community center, or join a senior center. Doing this will help you connect with people who have the same interests as you, and it will help you build new friendships that will keep you busy and active during your retirement.
7) Reduce Housing Costs
Before you leave your job, try to find ways to reduce the housing costs you’ll pay once you retire. Try to pay off as much of your mortgage as you can in the years leading up to your retirement. You can also consider downsizing for your retirement. If you do decide to downsize, it’s a good idea to buy your new house while you’re still working. It will also give you time to adjust. Moving into a new house is much easier to do when you’re working—it can be hard to get lenders to give you good interest rates when you’re on a fixed retirement income. Downsizing and paying off as much of your mortgage as you can will give you more money to spend on the activities you want to do when you’re retired.
8) Add as Much as you can to your Retirement Savings Account
In the year leading up your retirement, add as much as you can to your retirement savings account. You can contribute up to $5,500 a year to your IRA. Plus, if you’re 50 or older, you can contribute an additional $1,000 in catch up contributions each year if you meet the IRS’ income requirement. In the year or two before your retirement, it’s a good idea to contribute the most money that you can. Take a look through your current budget, and see how much you spend on average each month. Then, try to find places where you can trim that spending, and put that extra money in your IRA. When you retire and are no longer adding money to your IRA, you’ll appreciate having that extra cushion in your account.
9) Decide if you’re Emotionally Ready to Retire
When you hit 65, you may think that you should retire right away. However, some people find that they don’t want to leave their job. They enjoy their job, or they simply like going into work every day and having a set schedule. If you feel that way, it’s okay not to retire just yet. Retirement is a personal decision, and everybody’s ready for it at different times. If you enjoy working at your job, stay in it for another year or two. Or, if you like working but don’t love your job, try searching for a new position in your field. If you feel a sense of doubt about retiring, it’s okay to hold off. If you leave work when you’re ready, you’ll feel much happier and more fulfilled in your retirement.