When people think about preparing for retirement, they generally focus on finances. However, being prepared for retirement is about more than your financial portfolio and having a retirement budget. Retirement is also about navigating aging and the related physical and emotional challenges.
“When you retire, everything changes,” said Leslie Halstead, a financial professional with MassMutual in Glen Allen, Va. “Retirement is similar to any other major life event you may have already experienced – a new career, new home, new child. You need to spend a lot of time and effort preparing ahead of time, from all different perspectives, to be ready for that change.”
A sound retirement plan will involve at least three perspectives: financial, organizational, and emotional planning.
1. Financial planning
While finances during retirement can be complicated and far-reaching, a basic financial retirement strategy will include:
- Sources of income you’ll have in retirement.
- Decisions regarding any government benefits you may be eligible for, specifically Social Security and Medicare.
- What to consider if you’ll have private health insurance.
- Taxes, as you’ll need to know what to expect.
2. Organizational planning
You’re accustomed to making decisions for yourself. It is important that the decisions you’ve made — or will make — about the future are in writing so they can be properly carried out.
When it comes to organizational planning, the first thing you’ll want to do is establish your directives and make sure beneficiaries are up to date in your financial accounts. (Learn more: End of life planning)
Consider consolidating financial accounts as managing fewer accounts will be easier. Also, make sure those close to you can locate records and important documents. Oftentimes, simply collecting all important documents and putting them together in an easily accessible place, such as a drawer or file cabinet, is all you need to do.
Don’t wait until retirement to get your affairs in order. Start the process now, while you have the energy and clarity to get through these organizational tasks. (Learn more: Preparing for diminished capacity)
3. Emotional planning
If you’ve spent most of your adult life working, the switch to retirement can be filled with conflicting emotions.
It is often said that the best time to retire from your job is when there is something else you want to do. When you have little else to do, other than “not go to work,” your transition into retirement can be more difficult for you emotionally.
To ease this transition, start thinking about your post-retirement lifestyle. Explore new ideas, hobbies, and opportunities a few years before leaving your job, and build some concrete plans around your retirement activities a year ahead of your scheduled retirement. (Learn more: Should you move to a 55-or-older community?)
A big part of having an emotionally successful retirement is having good friends and family around. In the past, your relationships may have been centered on people you knew through work or your kids’ activities. As retirement begins many of these relationships fade away, so reconnect with those who matter most to you.
You also may find yourself living alone for the first time in decades. In addition to having meaningful personal relationships, it is important to have a support team to help. Simple activities like driving, cooking, cleaning, or buying groceries can become more difficult as you age.
By focusing on all aspects of your retired self, you can craft a retirement as full of life as the years that preceded it.
Learn more from MassMutual…
Protecting yourself against market fluctuations in retirement
What people don't know about Social Security, but should
Retiring in 12 months or less? What to do