The No Regret Retirement: Make Sure You Are Happy with the Big Decision
Retirement is a big deal. It is a major life transition and just like you didn’t want to choose the wrong college, marry the wrong partner, take the wrong job, or have too many kids, you want a retirement without regret!
Here are a few tips to make sure you are happy and satisfied with this big decision — even if you have already taken the leap.
Spend Time with People – Especially People You Love
Love, it is what makes the world go round.
And love is all about people. Study after study has shown that people on their death beds most regret not spending more time with friends and family.
One such study from Northwestern University found that regrets about relationships represented 43% of the survey respondents, well exceeding the 35% of people who cited work or financial concerns.
Retire at the Right Time — Not Too Late or Too Early
Lots of people retire only to find that they are unhappy or worried. Others retire and are so happy they can’t believe that they didn’t do it sooner.
If you aren’t sure about when to retire, you might benefit from some professional advice.
Lifestyle concerns: If your concerns about when to retire are related to lifestyle issues – knowing what to do in retirement, trying to figure out if you will be happy with your decision – then you might benefit from working with a retirement coach.
Financial worries: If you have financial concerns, you have options. Start by building a comprehensive plan and assessing where you stand. The NewRetirement Planner can help you get organized and it will identify opportunities for doing better.
Talking with a financial advisor is another way to build confidence and discover how to retire securely.
Don’t Put Off What You Really Want to Do – Travel While You Can!
Travel is the number one goal for most retirees. A full 90% of NewRetirement Planner users mention travel as one of their goals. However, whatever it is you want to do, do it. Do it now!
We don’t always want to face it, but the reality is that the clock is ticking. Now is the time to achieve your goals.
Have a Really Detailed Retirement Plan
I know you have heard this one before, but it is important. If you want a no regret retirement, you need a really detailed plan.
In some ways, retirement means you are flying without a net. You are living off what you already have. And, unless you go back to work, you have to make your existing resources last as long as you do — no matter how long that turns out to be.
You don’t want to retire with just a vague guess about how you are going to pay for everything. That is stressful.
To feel confident with your ability to fund your (and your spouse’s) retirement, you will be well served by creating a really detailed plan. You want to be able to see how you are going to make ends meet over the next 20 or 30 years!
The NewRetirement Planner is the best way to get your hands around this gargantuan task. It is an easy step by step approach to creating a plan, understanding where you stand, finding ways to make it better and maintaining it over time.
Keep Your Plans Updated and Make Adjustments
You can’t plan for everything. What you can do is update your plans monthly or quarterly. Just check in, document what has changed, make sure you are on track and adjust as necessary.
Retire When You Can Embrace Freedom!
What do retirees say that they like best about retirement? Many will say, the sense of freedom.
The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS) asked people, “what does retirement mean to you?” They found that people most often associate retirement with the words “freedom” (55%), “enjoyment” (53%), and “stress-free” (43%), despite the magnitude of preparations and challenges involved.
But, if you have kids, maybe you remember saying this to your teenager: “With freedom comes responsibility.” You have to be ready to manage the freedom – financially, emotionally and socially.
Take Care of Yourself, Maintain Your Health
If you are already in your late nineties, maybe it is okay to go ahead and smoke cigarettes, eat all the cupcakes, and enjoy whatever bacchanalian delights you desire. Those vices will probably take longer to kill you than any natural occurrence.
However, if you are any younger, you might as well take care of yourself – eat well, exercise and keep your brain active – so that you can really enjoy life.
But remember, “don’t ever regret getting old, many are denied the privilege!”
Speaking of Death, Think About Your Death!
What? Yes, you read that correctly.
An essay published in the New York Times made the case that thinking about your death can make you happier. The idea is to think about your daily choices as if this year were your last year. The research indicates that using death to help prioritize how you use your time actually improves your satisfaction and overall happiness with your choices.
And if you are worried that thinking about death is too depressing, the opposite may be true. Researchers have found that contemplating mortality can actually make you funnier — “Joking in the face of death: A terror management approach to humor production.”
Get Rid of Stuff You Don’t Need — Even Your Home
You have probably heard the stories, the millennials don’t want your stuff.
Young adults today live in smaller houses, they buy used and are more into experiences than antiques, heirlooms, old desks, books or porcelain.
So, you don’t have to hold onto it all for them. And, you may emotionally benefit from cleaning it all out.
However, the real benefit of sifting through your stuff is not just the joy that Marie Kondo preaches, you may find that the upside is downsizing your home! Learn more about the benefits of de-cluttering.
Downsizing can be a good move for your retirement lifestyle and it is one of the most effective ways to boost your retirement finances.
Plan with Your Spouse
If you are married and don’t want to have a gray divorce, you might want to make sure that you plan retirement WITH your spouse.
It sounds obvious, but it happens far less often than you would think.
Don’t Start Social Security Too Soon
Want a no regrets retirement? Don’t start Social Security too soon. You can retire, just don’t start Social Security until you understand the lifetime value of your benefits.
According to the Social Security Administration, “We calculate your basic Social Security benefit — the amount you would receive at your full retirement age — based on your lifetime earnings. However, the actual amount you receive each month depends on when you start receiving benefits. You can start your retirement benefit at any point from age 62 up until age 70, and your benefit will be higher the longer you delay starting it.”
The difference between starting at 62 and starting at 70 can be around $100,000, maybe more depending on spousal benefits!
A lot of retirees strive to plan a steady income stream for the remainder of their lives. This might not be the best idea.
The reality is that, for many people, retirement consists of different phases. You might spend more when you first retire, less as you start to slow down, not very much when you are old and then really a lot for healthcare in the last year of your life.
Think carefully and budget for ebbs and flows in your spending and you may feel better about a few splurges when you first retire. Learn more about creating a reliable retirement budget and planning for evolving spending.
Consider Spending it All!
You earned retirement. You saved. You accrued benefits. If you want to spend it all, go for it!
The NewRetirement Planner can help you find your max spending rate. You can also identify exactly how much you would like to leave behind and plan for that too.