I promised in last week’s article I would share some tips I’ve learned from clients over the years. These apply specifically to making retirement successful. I’ll also share some examples of where clients have shared regrets from retirement. I guess you would describe those as tough lessons to learn. Finally, you may notice a trend that enjoying retirement doesn’t mean you have to wait until retirement. I promise it makes sense.
- Do NOT wait until retirement to enjoy retirement. By this, take some time off now. Do some trips, whether big or small. Additionally, discover some new or rediscover some old hobbies. It really doesn’t matter what it is. The key is don’t wait and don’t sit around. Please make sure the activity is legal though. Don’t be a drug mule like the Clint Eastwood movie.
- Assuming you have the time to do so, plan on a transition to retirement taking a few years. Let’s assume you are planning to completely hanging it up at 70. I would recommend you start activities like the first bullet point at least three years ahead. Certainly, you will want to include reviewing your personal financial situation well before retirement. However, I’m not turning this into an infomercial. Oh yeah, don’t sit around in retirement and watch infomercials in retirement!
- An old high school classmate emailed me after last week’s article and shared a personal example of this tough lesson. It is one I have seen several times over the years. Be careful if your retirement involves you uprooting to go live near your kid(s) and help raise the grandkids. These situations usually involve becoming a babysitter, losing your social support network, kids end up moving elsewhere, and eventually the grandkids going off to start their own lives.
- Building off a key element from above, do your best to have a strong and active support network. Whether it is old coworkers, neighbors, people from church, classmates, or whatever. Remember, the data that shows meeting with a group once a month gives as much reward as doubling your income.
- I’ve seen too many times where people wait until the “right time” to travel. I know you have similar stories of the person who was going to do all these great things, but then gets sick and just physically cannot do it. If you can afford that adventure you’ve always wanted to take – do it now!
- If you retire, but really aren’t ready to fully retire, why not work in a part-time status. Maybe your old job will let you do a few hours a week. This helps smooth the transition to retirement, gives you some extra cash, allows you to stay mentally engaged, connected to a support network, but with fewer responsibilities and hopefully less stress. You’d be surprised how many of my clients retire and take on another job. The “retirement” jobs are because they want to, not because they have to.
- Another tough lesson is assuming you will get to retire on your own terms. For a variety of reasons, retirement may come sooner than you think. It could be anything from your health, the health of a loved one or a job being eliminated. This is where it is important to start planning for retirement at least three years before you want to retire. Take the time to plan your transition, get some activities, meet with your financial advisor, review everything with the Social Security office for your benefits, be sure your estate plan is in order, and more. I’ve received those phone calls from people who reach out and say – “I just had to retire, haven’t really planned to go this early and need help.” Those aren’t fun situations for anyone.
As I said, these are a few key lessons I’ve picked up from clients over the years. The biggest takeaways are to do your best to retire on your terms, stay mentally and physically active, be social and don’t wait until tomorrow to do things you can and want to do now! Everyone’s situation is different, but I wanted to share some of the ones that resonated with me. In the meantime, I’m planning on running my practice for a long time, although I’m sure at some point I will scale back how many clients I work with and how much time I spend in the office.