Retirement is something we all work toward, but it can be difficult to figure out when and how to do it. This is a major life transition, one that should be positive.
Without good planning, though, retirement can be stressful and difficult, which why many Americans push off their retirement plans. Recent statistics indicate that most people expect to retire by 66, three years later than the average of a decade ago. Before taking the plunge, you should plan and consider finances. Being healthy, happy, and financially secure are essential for a good retirement. Here are five important considerations.
Assess Your Health and Commit to Wellness Practices
Poorly planned finances can ruin retirement, but nearly as detrimental is poor health. Health problems can not only make life uncomfortable, but they can also drain savings. The healthier you are heading into retirement, the better. A commitment to wellness now and into the future means taking several actions:
- Eat a healthy diet – Add more fiber, eat more whole, unprocessed foods, and try proven healthy eating patterns like the Mediterranean diet.
- Stay active – Exercise contributes to overall good health, but staying active also increases longevity.
- Stay mentally active – For mental and brain health, try new activities, engage in hobbies, and stay social and connected with friends and family.
- Learn to cope with change – This is a time of a lot of changes. Being able to accept and embrace them will make retirement more enjoyable.
Plan Your Post-Retirement Needs
With a good foundation of wellness and health, it’s time to plan finances. It is impossible to plan and save without knowing what you need. Start by creating a realistic budget for retirement, which includes figuring out how you want to live. Will you travel or mostly stay home? Do you want to eat out a lot? Will you engage in any expensive hobbies?
Once you understand what you want and need for retirement, plan for reasonable ways to save money. For instance, now is a great time to eliminate debt. This will save a lot of money in retirement. Also, look for savings in smaller things that add up, such as haircuts, gym memberships, subscriptions, and clothing.
Decide When to Receive Social Security
No retiree should expect to rely on Social Security, but it can be an important contributor to a budget. It’s important to think now about when to start receiving those payments. It’s best to wait if possible. The longer you put off the payments, the greater the benefits will be.
For anyone born in 1960 or later, eligibility for benefits begin at age 67. Taking payments earlier means getting less. If you can wait until age 70, you’ll get the maximum. There are no additional benefits beyond 70. Plan your finances with this in mind and make sure you can survive and thrive longer before resorting to Social Security.
Reassess Home, Health, and Car Insurance
Insurance is a big expense in retirement. Evaluate the coverage you will need and make changes to insurance plans that will provide what you need at the lowest cost. Make sure your health insurance coverage will be adequate and include things like long-term care. If you retire before eligible for Medicare, take the costs of insurance into account.
You may also be able to save on home and car insurance for retirement but still get good coverage. Many plans are designed for seniors and retirement. For instance, AARP car insurance helps seniors save by providing cost savings and benefits that reflect decades of driving experience. Some of the benefits include lifetime renewability, 12-month rate protection, accident assistance, and lifetime repair assistance.
Don’t Forget Estate Planning
Work with a lawyer before retiring to make important estate planning decisions. This includes writing a will and a living will, planning for charitable giving, setting up trusts, and assigning power of attorney and a healthcare proxy. Making these decisions now allows you to protect yourself and your family, the causes you care about, and your estate and finances.
Retirement should be a time to celebrate and enjoy the efforts of your working life. Early retirement may be an option if you plan adequately to budget your future, take advantage of savings, get the right insurance, estate plan, and take care of your health.