How to Retire: 19 Things You Need to Do Just Before and After You Retire

Retirement is one of the biggest things you will ever do. And, how to retire well is the big question.

how to retire well
If you want to know how to retire, here are 19 important things you should do just before and after you retire for a happy and secure future:

1. Create, Maintain and Evolve Your Retirement Plan

Okay.  This should be too obvious to even mention: If you want to know how to retire well, you should have a highly detailed retirement plan before you retire.  And, you should assess your plans every few months after you retire.

The research is clear.  People who feel that they have control over the retirement process have better outcomes in retirement.

However, Gallup Polls found that only 43% of retired investors and a mere 36% of non retired investors have a written financial plan.

Do you really want to wing it in retirement and risk running out of savings completely?  No, it is better to have a plan for exactly how to retire. Having a retirement plan can relieve stress and help you make better decisions now and for the rest of your life.

A good retirement plan involves creation of a very detailed budgeting for now and projected into your future.  You need to know how much you want to spend and how your expenses will change over time.  You also need to figure out exactly how much you have, how to invest, how much you can withdraw, what you’ll need for healthcare, where to live and much more.

The NewRetirement Retirement Planner makes it easy to create and maintain a retirement plan.  This tool is named a best retirement calculator by the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) and many others.

2. Take a Hard Look at Your Retirement Benefits

Social Security and Medicare are benefits that almost all of us will receive — they are a big part of figuring out how to retire.

Social Security: You want to think very carefully about when to start Social Security. This is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in the year you retire. (Although it is possible — and often advised — to retire from your job but not start Social Security until much later. And, it is possible — but not usually advised — to start Social Security before you quit working.)

The longer you wait, the more your monthly benefit will be.  Use a break even Social Security calculator to figure out the best time to start this benefit.

Medicare: You of course know that you are eligible for Medicare at age 65.  However, in the year you retire, you’ll want to be sure that you are informed about the out of pocket medical costs you’ll encounter during retirement and make sure you have the resources to afford the care you want to receive.

If you have not already, you should also take a hard look at supplemental Medicare insurance.  These plans can help you save money.  Compare your options here.

3. Take the Leap of Faith and Retire!

Research shows that people feel A LOT of stress and anxiety in the years leading up to retirement.  However, most everyone feels great in retirement. The retirees who went through a rigorous planning process to figure out “how to retire” expressed the most satisfaction with retirement. However, even those not as prepared find ways to make it work and enjoy this time of their lives.

While you don’t know what could go wrong, you can create a flexible plan that will cover you when the unexpected happens. (Learn how to plan for terrible things that might happen in retirement.) So, prepare yourself and then take the leap of faith and retire.

4. Celebrate!

Retirement (especially if you have prepared a responsible plan) is a big reason to celebrate!  Throwing a party to commemorate the occasion and your career can be a wonderful way to launch the next phase of your life.

Get tips for planning a retirement party.

5. Find a Cause

Having meaning in your life is a critical component of happiness. Many people find purpose in their careers. When you retire it is important to figure out a new purpose for your life.

You don’t need to save the world, any cause large or small can help you maintain your vitality.

Whether you opt to work full time on a single cause, volunteer once a week or just adopt a pet, whatever you do should give you personal satisfaction.  When thinking about purpose, think about what kind of legacy you want to leave to your community.

Here are a couple of resources to help you identify your retirement cause:

6. Gussy Yourself Up

Retirement is not a time to fade into the woodwork.  Retirees these days see retirement as a new beginning so it is an ideal time to freshen yourself up.  Your old look might not be compatible with your new life.

Whether a makeover means a new pair of running shoes or a head to toe remake, is up to you.  Clean out your closets, donate what you no longer need and make sure you are suited for your new activities.

Think about a new retirement wardrobe, haircut and sense of self.

7. Really Imagine Your Future

If you want to know how to retire well, perhaps the best thing to do is to visualize your future — really think about the details of who you will be, where and why. Being able to imagine now who you will be in the future and what your needs and desires will be at that time is perhaps the most important aspect of planning.

Here are 7 exercises to help you visualize your future.

8. Keep Confidence in Check

Optimism soars in your sixties.  Study after study shows that people feel happier and more confident in retirement.  Did you know that lifelong happiness peaks in your 60s?

However, you will want to be careful to maintain a realistic outlook.  Don’t overspend.  Be careful with ambitious plans.  Think about what you need today as well as what will happen in the future.

9. Set a Goal

Having a goal is a good way to make sure that your life is organized in a positive way.

Your goals do not necessarily have to be important,  just satisfying to you.  Set goals for improving your golf score, seeing grandchildren, smiling at people, watching less TV.

Most people who want to know how to retire are also asking how to make travel a big part of their life. Travel is the most popular retirement goal.  Here are 20 great ways to make travel part of your retirement.

10. Plan Big Purchases

In the year you are retiring, you should probably try to document all of the big purchases and financial decisions you will want to make.

Will you need a new car?  Are you hoping to go on a big trip or buy a boat or RV?  Do you want to try to contribute to your grandchildren’s education?  Are you buying a fishing cabin?

Work these big purchases into your overall retirement plan. The NewRetirement Planner enables you to document as many different future big purchases as you can imagine.  You can also create a highly detailed monthly budget — reflecting current and future spending.

11. Simplify Accounts

If you have multiple retirement accounts, you might want to see what you can do to consolidate your savings. Making your retirement finances less complicated can save you money on fees and can reduce the stress of managing it all.

Just be sure that if you are consolidating tax advantaged accounts like 401ks and IRAs that you follow mandated rollover procedures so you do not inflate your tax burden.

12. Write or Edit Your Investment Policy Statement

An Investment Policy Statement (IPS) is a written document, usually but not necessarily prepared by a financial advisor.  It covers your investment goals, your strategy for achieving those goals, a framework for making changes to your plan and options for what to do if things don’t go as expected.

As you move from asset accumulation to figuring out how to turn your savings into retirement income, shifting your investment strategies is important aspect of “how to retire.”

Learn more about the Investment Policy Statement.

13. Find a Routine

After retirement there’s nothing but time, so it might seem that schedules aren’t crucial. But a routine might be as important as ever, and for several different reasons.

Routines help us stay productive and get things done.  We do things that are routine out of habit, and the fact that you don’t really need to think about it reduces stress.  Routines are a good foundation for enabling you to be creative.  In fact, routines have been proven to increase health and psychological well being.

In your first year after retirement, it is especially important that you try to establish healthy routines.  Whatever else you include in your routine, be sure to include exercise. Exercise is a critical component of a happy and healthy retirement and once it becomes routine, it is a true joy.  Whether it is daily gardening, a walk around the block or training for a marathon, just make it part of what you do every day.

14. Try 3 New Things

Most retirees feel that retirement gives them a sense of freedom and optimism — making this an ideal time for you to try new things.

Trying new things is fun, it reduces boredom and it forces you to grow.  My mom just signed up for dancing and acting classes and I swear I can detect a new vigor in her voice and demeanor.

These new experiences can improve your brain function — making you healthier and more vital.

15. Clean Out the House or… Relocate

Our homes are usually set up to accommodate our lifestyles.  In retirement, life changes pretty dramatically.  You will want to first assess whether or not where you live is ideal for what you want out of retirement.  If it isn’t, consider downsizing or relocating to a best place to retire.

If you love where you live, consider taking a sweep through the house to clean up and get rid of things you no longer need.

KonMari is a trend sweeping (yes, bad pun intended) the nation.  It is a charming approach to organizing and paring down your belongings in an ultimate quest for joy.

16. Get a Check Up

Medicare offers free yearly check ups.  And, meeting with your doctor in the year you retire is a great way to kick off your future.  Discuss ways to stay healthy, get your flu shot and create a plan for aging.

17. Create a Plan for Eating Well, Staying Physically Active and Maintaining Good Health

Studies show that good physical health is associated with a range of positive outcomes in retirement, such as life satisfaction and quality of life.

Keys to good health involve regular check ups with your physician as well as:

Regular physical exercise.  You don’t necessarily have to lift weights or go on five mile runs. According to Dan Buettner, author of “The Blue Zones, 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest,” the longest living people in the world make movement a natural part of their everyday life.  They move in meaningful ways about every 20 minutes and walking is their primary mode of transportation.

Eat well: It seems like dietary guidelines are changing all the time.  So, maybe stick to what has been discovered by Buettner. His recommendations include that five percent of your food be plant-based, stop eating when 80% full and include beans and nuts in your daily diet.

18. Create a Social Community

Having friends and seeing them on a regular basis is an important way to stay healthy and engaged.  However, staying social can be more difficult after retirement.

Meeting up with people takes a little more effort since it is not automatically part of a routine as it is when you are working.

As such, you will want to prepare for retirement by creating social habits.  Arrange to meet with friends for coffee each morning.  Join a club.  Find a volunteer or part time job opportunity.  Whatever you do, be sure to make it a habit and something where you will be held accountable.

Technology is making it easier and easier to stay at home.  However, to retain your mental and emotional well being, you need to be making regular physical contact with others.

Discover why loneliness is a significant risk to your health.

19. Make Sure Your Kids Are Independent

Currently record numbers of 18-34 year olds are living with their parents.  These children can often be a financial burden.  Your own parents might be another potential expense that you will need to budget.  Will they need financial assistance?  Will you need to care for them as they age?

When you retire, you need to assess all kinds of expenses — family included.

How to Retire? Don’t Forget to Create and Maintain a Written Retirement Financial Plan

How to retire? Good things happen when you create a plan. Retirement becomes real. You stop worrying. Stress melts away.

The NewRetirement Planner makes it easy to create and maintain your plan. It is a comprehensive and unbiased do it yourself approach.  Discover your path to a secure future right now.

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