The Planner's Perspective: 5 Ways to Make Retirement More Enjoyable
By Paul Morrone CFP®, CPA/PFS, MSA
Many of retirements biggest hurdles have nothing to do with money. Retiring is one of the most important decisions an individual will make during their lifetime, and doing it right can help maximize those golden years.
- Envision what you want your retirement to look like. How are you going to spend your 168 hours per week when you’re not working/commuting for (at least) 40 of them. Do you plan to travel? Spend time with family and friends? Volunteer? Enjoy a hobby? What will be the purpose that motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? What is your schedule going to look like each day?
- Know who to rely on. Let’s face it, we will all need help at some point. Whether it’s a child to help you with your laundry or a handy neighbor who can help you change out a lightbulb, help is readily available if you know where to look. Establishing a network of people you trust can alleviate stress you didn’t know you had.
- Share your plan. A plan is only as good as how well it is executed and keeping everything in your head has many pitfalls. Talk about your retirement goals, what you envision your life looking like and who the key players are with family and friends who may help keep you accountable. In addition, establish a list of trusted contacts and advisors, and share it with someone you trust (a child, caretaker or close friend). This way if you need something, they will know who to contact on your behalf.
- Be proactive. As defined benefit pension plans become less common, retirees are now forced to self-fund a greater portion of their retirement. Determining what the ‘new normal’ is going to be in terms of cash flow and discretionary income will help set expectations at the onset of retirement, rather than finding out 20 years down the road that you over (or under) spent. Assumptions made during the financial planning process can help establish spending/savings goals targets prior to retirement to help increase the probability that you have saved enough to live your desired lifestyle when it’s time to trade in your paycheck for a life of leisure.
- Do it right the first time. The decision to retire is a big one that most only make once in their lifetime. Along with retirement comes a host of financial and non-financial decisions that you have to make in order to maximize the probability that you’ll achieve your goals. Getting advice from someone who has done it before may help provide additional insight to make informed (and potentially irrevocable) decisions. This may include the timing of your Social Security election, evaluation of retiree healthcare coverage and Medicare, understanding the impact of pension annuitization or lump-sum options, designing a tax-efficient distribution plan or simply having a sounding board for your concerns.