Health and Healthcare

9 Essential Tips for Retirement Everyone Needs to Know

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Retirement is intimidating, especially in America. If given the choice, companies in America would force employees to work until their dying breath. Politicians constantly try to raise the retirement age, eliminate retirement benefits, and generally make life outside of work unbearable and difficult. In this country, after working for a “living” we still have to fight to enjoy our savings in our twilight years. If you manage to make it to an affordable retirement, you are actually in the minority.

For this list, we look at many of the questions and tips that financial blogs and advisors often neglect when giving retirement advice. These are the more important questions that you should answer before retirement. While these tips are applicable to everyone, we wanted to make them more useful to those who are quickly approaching retirement age.

Why Are We Talking About This?

Couple, dance and kitchen with a senior woman and man dancing while happy together in their home. Retirement, smile and love with elderly pensioners being romantic in a house in the morning
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What does retirement look like for you?

Financial blogs and online gurus will make it sound like retirement is straightforward and easy. Just save a couple million dollars and you’re set, right? Well, retirement is about more than just money, which may surprise investors. Many of them don’t consider the many other questions you have to answer before starting retirement. We’re here to help.

#1 Consider: Why Are You Retiring?

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What are your goals for retirement?

This is often a question many retirees neglect to ask. Why are you retiring? You’ve set your sights on 67 (or whatever the retirement age is at the time), eager to stop working, but why?

Do you see retirement as a reward for a life of hard work? A time to relax and enjoy the money you saved up?

Do you see it as an escape from the rat race? A time when you can finally do and be what you want without needing to worry about bosses or offices?

Or are you simply retiring because that’s what you do? Is it what society has told you that you should be working toward? Do you even want to retire?

Answering these simple questions and answering honestly will help you define this next step of your life and sort your priorities appropriately. Typical retirement might not be the right fit for you. There is more to life than wasting away in a senior living community.

#2 Understand Your Retirement Benefits

401(k) plan: A employer-sponsored retirement savings plan where employees can contribute a portion of their salary on a pre-tax basis and the funds grow tax-deferred until withdrawal in retirement.
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The math doesn’t end with retirement.

Once you’ve decided that a normal retirement is for you, take stock of what benefits you actually have access to and what you can take advantage of during your last few years. Don’t take anything for granted and wake up to a rude surprise on the first day of retirement because you don’t actually have the money you were counting on.

Before you can make any plans for retirement, you need to understand what resources you’re working with. How much money did you save up? How much Social Security do you qualify for in your state? Are there any tax benefits for your accounts that you have? Are there any programs your city or state provides to seniors or retirees? What groups or facilities can you now use?

Even if you don’t end up using all these resources, knowing that they are available and how to use them is always useful information for you and your family.

#3 Remember Retirement is About You

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Retirement should be a happy time.

Retirement is your reward for selling the best years of your life to a corporation, so make the most of it. There will be people and organizations who want to sell you on investment opportunities, take advantage of your significant savings, or steal your time. Always remember that your retirement is yours. Spend as much time as you want with family or traveling the world. Don’t waste the last years of your life satisfying the goals and priorities of others.

Retirement is usually spent fulfilling the dreams and living the life people dreamed of while they were working when bosses wouldn’t let them go to their kids’ soccer games or travel Europe for a couple weeks. It’s time for some honest introspection. Do you wish you spent more time with family? Do you regret you never got to visit Mexico? Well, you’re still alive for now! While not all the mistakes of our lives can’t be fixed in the last few years, it’s never too late to make a change.

#4 Decide Where You Want to Live Early

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Start a gang with your best buddies!

Not every retiree owns their home, and those who do might not want to live there during retirement. When your income is limited, it pays to plan where you’re going to live long before you enter retirement. Don’t leave it to the last minute.

Are you going to live with your family in a basement apartment or duplex? Do they even want you there? Did you ask?

Are you going to join a senior living community? Are you going to live on a boat?

These are all big decisions that take time to realize, but remember you don’t have to stick with one or the other. If you want to live on your own for a few years before selling everything and living in an RV, that is definitely an option. Just remember to plan as much as you can beforehand.

#5 Make a List of Your Support Network

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Retirement still takes some work.

This tip is mostly for those who care for you, whether it be family or someone else. In the event, you have a health complication or any number of unforeseen events in which someone needs to contact a doctor or relative, your support network should be written down and posted somewhere obvious and accessible.

You’re no spring chicken anymore, and there’s no predicting what shenanigans you might get into that you won’t be able to fix yourself. If you are prone to accidents or have health complications, this list becomes ever more important, and you should plan to have regular check-ins with someone you trust. Share this list with friends and family, especially those who live nearby and even those who are on the list themselves. Make sure everybody knows the list exists or its no use!

#6 Include Your Mental and Emotional Health in Your Retirement

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Just because you’re old, doesn’t mean the fun stops.

The day that retirement stops being associated with gold will be a glorious day for the human race. That being said, you need to incorporate both physical, emotional, and mental activities in your retirement routine. Say what you will about work, but the daily application of body and mind to a task keeps us healthy in more ways than one.

Sitting alone in a house by yourself is unhealthy emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Working at a job you dislike through retirement is equally bad.

You don’t need to over-plan your retirement or be the most active elder in your community, but expand your horizons from time to time and leave the house on a regular basis. Make plans for finding enrichment.

#7 Find Your Purpose

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Your purpose can be living on a boat.

One of the biggest burdens of retirement that many people approaching retirement age don’t anticipate is the loss of purpose. Unfortunately, this is a symptom of a larger sickness in our society of finding purpose in external validation and forming our identity around our jobs or career. Spiritual practices and other philosophies can help with this, but you will still find yourself in a society that will demand you have a “purpose”.

When you were in school, you studied for your future job, when you had your job, you worked toward retirement, now that you’re retired, what are you working toward? This tip isn’t a recommendation that you need to work toward anything, but a point to help you identify that this feeling will rise within you, and it is up to you how you will deal with it.

#8 Make a Detailed Budget

Money and nest eggs concept for retirement, savings, and financial planning
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Time to see how well you played the capitalism game!

Chances are you’ll probably be living on a smaller amount of money during retirement than you made earlier in life. Your Social Security benefits combined with your retirement savings will probably be less than you survive on with your current expenses. You might need to eliminate some expenses or even move to a cheaper home if you want to make ends meet.

If you kept a detailed budget during your life, you should keep doing so. If you didn’t, it’s never too late to start. You may be surprised to see how little (or how much) money you have to work with.

Just remember, your retirement is not guaranteed. Nobody can tell you how many years you will have before you go to that great guitar solo in the sky. If you have a healthy retirement account, you don’t want to budget too tightly only to pass on with money left over, and you don’t want to spend everything your first year and be broke for another twenty. It’s a careful balancing act matching money to an uncertain amount of time.

#9 Have a Backup Plan

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Life happens, and that’s OK.

You probably have an idea of what your ideal retirement looks like. That’s fantastic. If you don’t, then now is the time to start thinking about it.

Whatever your plans are for the future, make sure you have a backup plan or two. Family, health, money, the economy, and many other things can get in the way of you and your retirement dream, so when the worst comes to pass, it will save you time and significant stress if you already have a plan B in place.

These backup plans can be for anything. Did your son’s home burn down when you were planning on living with his family? What is your alternative living plan? Did you fall for a scam and lose all your retirement savings? What is your plan for paying for everything? Did you get diagnosed with a life-altering disease? What options did you plan for so that it doesn’t impact your enjoyment of your retirement?

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