What I Wish I Had Known Before Retirement

If you reflect on your high school and college years, chances are you wish you had dedicated more time and attention to your studies. Whether it’s your education, family life or professional career, such wisdom only comes with time and distance from the experience itself. There’s no crystal ball that can predict exactly how your retirement will be. Here’s some insight into what most retirees wish they knew before retirement.

There’s more to retirement planning than money…

You’ll spend ten, twenty or thirty years (if you’re lucky) saving for your retirement. You’ll calculate a budget, a replacement ratio and target savings goals to allow you to retire comfortably. It’s likely one of the largest financial endeavors of your life. But, don’t let your financial planning overshadow the personal planning that needs to take place as well. How will you spend your time in retirement? Do you have goals for traveling or for mastering a new skill?
It’s equally important to plan for managing your relationships with others. If you’re married, you’ll have more time than ever before with your spouse. If you’re leaving a career with high levels of personal interaction, you’ll want avenues for new relationships in retirement, such as volunteering or mentoring. Your savings may outline your retirement plan, but you decide how to fill your time.

There are different ways to retire…

Retirement isn’t an all-or-nothing game. You don’t have to trade your career for 24/7 rest and relaxation. All too often, retirement is defined solely by which category you meet: Working or Not Working. If you choose to continue working in some form throughout your retirement, you’re not alone. According to the National Council on Aging, nearly 20% of adults aged 65+ are working or seeking work, which is nearly double the rate in 1999 (12%). Many retirees work for social interaction, the opportunity to pursue a new interest or simply for additional compensation. Full time, part time and consulting roles are all options.

There’s always something to spend money on…

It’s easy to assume that you’ll have the diligence to live within a budget by the time you enter your golden years. The truth is there will be just as many interests competing for your attention and spending power. I t’s a recognized fact that most first-year retirees overspend during their first twelve months in retirement – generally on extended vacations. Travel pursuits aside, you’ll face many more trade-offs on how to spend your money. Will you dole out generous birthday gifts to grandchildren each year, or will you leave a larger financial legacy after your passing? If you’re still supporting adult children, it’s time to push them into complete financial independence.

There’s no magic pill for health…

Are you waiting for retirement to finally have the time to devote to exercise and dietary planning? If you haven’t made a commitment to wellness throughout your life, don’t expect retirement to provide an instant boost to your health. Your health will be the primary determinant of how much – and how long – you’ll enjoy your retirement years. Start preparing for a healthy retirement now- both in terms of fitness and savings. Fidelity estimated that couples who retired in 2013 will need $220,000 to pay medical expenses throughout retirement. Medicare coverage kicks in at age 65. But, on average, it will pay less than half of your medical bills.

There’s no way to know if you’ve saved enough….

The average retiree can expect to spend twenty years or more in retirement. Savvy retirees are aware of their savings adequacy – their level of confidence in their savings lasting throughout their entire retirement, plus some to spare. Adequacy is important for everyday cost-of-living and for emergency expenditures as well. Your relationship with your financial advisor should extend well beyond your target retirement date. He or she will continue to work with you throughout your retirement years, giving you advice and recommendations for maintaining healthy spending habits as you age. Your financial advisor will continue to evaluate and rebalance your investments to ensure they’re the best fit for your individual situation.

There’s still never enough time…

Throughout your working years, you struggled with balancing your time between family, work and relationships. Most likely, there was never enough time to completely satisfy each. Time is equally valuable in retirement. While there are fewer formal demands on your time, now more than ever you should ask yourself the question: How will I seize the day?

2016-33310 Exp. 12/18


Mature Workers: Fact Sheet. National Council on Aging.

Fidelity Estimates Couples Retiring in 2013 Will Need $220,000 to Pay Medical Expenses Throughout Retirement. Fidelity.com, May 2013.


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