By Kate Benzin
Are you excitedly looking forward to the day when you won’t have to be part of the nine-to-five rat race any longer? Retirement can truly be your ‘golden years’ if you plan well – not just financially.
Many people don’t see a need to plan for any aspect of retirement other than making sure they have enough money. There is a lot of information about retirement planning online, but most of it centers around your financial needs.
Planning for retirement, though, is not just about making sure that you have enough financial assets to keep you living in the style you enjoyed while you worked. There’s a lot more to life than money.
Many people look at retirement as wonderful and magical. They can hardly wait for a life of freedom from the restrictions of their jobs. They can’t wait to start doing all the activities that they’d had no time for while working. But you need to be strategic in preparing yourself for retirement.
If you want to make your ‘golden years’ the best years of your life, you need to look ahead and plan wisely for what you plan to do for the next 20 to 30 years. Don’t wait until you’re already sitting at home day after day staring at the television to realize that you don’t want to waste these years.
How Long Will My Retirement Be?
In the United States, Social Security set the age for full retirement benefits at 65 (now changed to 66 with a future change to 67 planned) in 1935 and began paying monthly benefits in 1940. At that time, the average lifespan for men was 77.7 and for women 79.7. In 2015, the average lifespans in the U.S. have lengthened significantly – 84.3 for men and 86.6 for women.
No one can accurately predict exactly how long you will live, but your chance of having a lengthy retirement has improved dramatically since 1940. Prepare yourself to enjoy these ‘golden years.’
If you’re getting close to the day when you’ll walk away from work, here are some things to take into consideration to help you make the transition smoother. If you’ve already worked your last day, you will still benefit from looking over these ideas to make sure that you’ve got all your bases covered.
You’ve probably never realized just how much your identity is tied to your job. At work, you might be the problem solver that co-workers come to when they can’t figure out how to get the new software to do something that was so easy to do manually. It feels so good to help your work friends – makes you feel heroic.
Even if you’re not a hero at work, your job gives you purpose and structure. You know your role and how to accomplish the daily tasks required from you. You probably think that you’re going to love not having to play that role any longer, but keep in mind that you’ll need something else to take over. Look for activities that will help you define yourself in your new role.
You may want to look for activities that will give you the chance to meet new people. You may not have been bosom buddies with your co-workers, but they did provide social interaction. If you don’t make new friends, you may find yourself feeling lonely.
Your Spouse or Significant Other
Is your spouse working? Will he or she continue to work once you retire? Will he or she resent that you can sleep in rather than waking up at the crack of dawn to get ready for another day on the job?
Do you and your partner divide your budget, and will it continue to function in the same way that it did in the past?
There is a lot to take into consideration about your new retired lifestyle so that the two of you don’t end up in conflict. For example, you may decide to get up at the same time as your spouse as a way to avoid resentment.
Discuss with your spouse your expectations of what retirement will be like and how you’ll want to fill your days. If your spouse is also retiring, perhaps you’ll find some activities that you’ll want to do together, but be careful about spending too much time together. You probably didn’t work together and so spent 9 to 10 hours apart each day. Too much togetherness might bring the two of you into conflict.
Take Inventory of Your Interests
Here are a few questions to help you plan your retirement routine:
- Are there activities that you’ve always wanted to participate in?
- Can you revive activities that you had to put aside while working?
- What interests do you and your partner share?
- Would you like to work part-time to ease into retirement?
Retirement can be wonderful. But don’t expect everything to just fall into place without some clever planning on your part.
Kate is a freelance writer who has lived on the island of Java for the past 30 years. Java became her home when she took a 3-month work assignment to train Indonesians on word processing equipment in Jakarta, and she fell in love with the adventurous lifestyle that she found there. She worked as a tour director in many countries of the world, but she now spends most of her time writing in her home/office in Yogyakarta, Central Java, which she shares with her two whippets and four Dalmatians. You can visit her at KateFreelanceWriter or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.