Retirement may seem like a far-off concept or like a fast-approaching reality shift, depending on where you are in life. No matter how far off it is for you, being ready for this big change is essential. Here are five things you should do to prepare for retirement.
1. Prioritize Your Health
As people age, their health declines. Even though there are some aspects of health you can’t control, like family history and genetics, you can still prioritize your health now and continue to do so as you reach retirement age. For now, live as healthy a lifestyle as you can and get regular checkups. As you prepare for retirement, take stock of the hospitals, doctor’s offices and specialists in the area where you live or are planning to move to. Make sure they’re within a distance you’re comfortable with and are reputable.
2. Take Stock of Expenses and Assets
Knowing what your expenses and asset situation is likely to be after your retirement can be helpful in determining how your lifestyle will need to change in retirement. Consider what assets you have, such as investments, savings, home and vehicle ownership and your retirement funds. Compare these assets and sources of income with the expenses you’re likely to have after you retire and budget accordingly. Make sure to include whether you’ll be planning to sell any of your assets or pick up a new job. For example, many homeowners prefer to downsize or move into retirement communities after they retire. If this is something you’re considering, you’ll need to understand how to sell your house and decide whether to sell yourself or enlist a realtor.
3. Nurture Relationships
Once you retire from your job, it can be surprisingly difficult to maintain relationships and make new ones. It’s gotten easier with the rise of cell phones and social media, but still, not being able to see your friends and coworkers every weekday in the office can feel isolating after so many years of that being the norm. Make a point to stay in touch with work friends and to cultivate relationships with friends outside work. You can also discover new friendships on social media and in classes, part-time work or volunteer work, where you can meet and network with people who share your interests.
4. Make a Retirement Plan
To really prepare for retirement, you should create a basic plan for it. Include a budget and contingency plans for unexpected events, such as illness or injury. Think about what kinds of activities you’ll be doing after you retire and how they can be incorporated into your budget and schedule. Above all, don’t just plan out your budget. Make plans to do the things you’ve always wanted to do but never felt like you had the time or reason to. If you want to travel, write a book or spend more quality time with family, for example, retirement is the perfect time to do so.
5. Find a Purpose outside of Work
Sometimes, retirement can feel like the end of something instead of a new beginning. This can be particularly true for people who find purpose in their work or who have worked in the same place for many years. Your identity can get tied to your work, which can make it difficult and traumatic to leave it behind. To prepare for this possible reaction, you should encourage yourself to find a purpose outside of work. You could spend time volunteering with various organizations, start plans for your own charitable organization or develop hobbies. If work is simply something you enjoy, think about jobs you could do after retiring, such as teaching classes at a community center.
Many people find enjoyment in retirement, finding new experiences, honing hobbies or doing more volunteer work. If you prepare for retirement, your transition to this stage of life will be smoother and faster, so you can spend more time enjoying it and less time making sure everything is in place.