Adjusting to retirement can be unexpectedly difficult.
How you imagined it: “I can’t wait to retire. No more alarm clocks. I can do anything I want. It’s going to be amazing!”
How you really feel: “I’m so bored, I miss my friends. There’s nothing to do all day. I thought we’d travel more.”
For most people, retirement planning means setting up investments and looking forward to leaving the workforce behind. Yet transitioning to a life without schedules, deadlines or daily interaction with colleagues can be difficult. A retirement plan that considers the financial, social and emotional issues you’ll encounter will help you adjust with ease.
To get accustomed to this new chapter in your life, try these five tips for retirement.
1. Understand that Financial Planning is More Than Investing
Financial planning for retirement involves more than funding a healthy 401K account. It includes cost-cutting, reducing risk and possibly downsizing your home. Take the following steps to create your complete financial plan:
- Consult a professional: this US News article explains financial planning tips for retirement as well as when/how you should consult a financial professional for support.
- Create a realistic budget: figure out what your monthly costs will be in retirement. Expenses such as gas and clothing will be lower, whereas the cost of health insurance and deductibles will increase.
- Review your income: calculate your Social Security benefits. Review your pension and retirement accounts (here’s where a financial planner comes in handy). Decide on a withdrawal amount—such as 4 percent per year—that meets your needs without draining your investments too quickly.
- Cut costs: pay off debt, cancel professional subscriptions and association memberships. Consider downsizing to a smaller, more manageable home or senior living community (more on that in the next sections).
2. Get Your House in Order
As you’re spending a great deal of time in your house after retirement, you may want to invest time and money to improve your living space. However, home improvements can be expensive. Unless stipulated in your budget, carefully consider any large home updates. Compare the potential increase in home equity from updates to the cost of renovations.
If needed, look for smaller, more manageable projects to improve your home. For example, you might want to tackle clearing out your attic or garage. You could redecorate instead of renovating. Projects like these can also help you fill your time.
Retirement (or the years/months leading up to it) is also a good time to consider downsizing. For empty nesters, large family homes can be expensive to maintain. Selling and moving to a smaller home can also give your retirement fund an extra injection of capital.
Additionally, moving to a senior living community can help you streamline expenses and maintenance by paying one monthly fee to cover all your housing costs as well as meals, amenities, and activities.
3. Structure Your Time
The freedom of having nothing to do each day seems like a dream but could become a less than ideal situation, especially for fast-paced individuals. With too much time on your hands, boredom and loneliness set in. Adjusting to a retirement lifestyle can take time. Adding structure or activities can make it feel like you’re not going from working for 50+ years to doing nothing all day. Use these tips to create a framework:
- Establish a routine: schedule times for meals, exercise and social activities.
- Get a job or volunteer: more than 20 percent of adults over 65 are working or looking for work. A new job, even part-time, structures the day, provides a social outlet and is a source of income. If you want a more flexible option, you could also consider finding a volunteer position.
- See the sights: take advantage of senior citizen discounts and take the vacation you’ve been dreaming about.
- Find a hobby: retirement is the perfect time to find new passions. Take a cooking class, join a bridge league, learn to play golf—the possibilities are endless!
3. Get Social
You might not realize what a social outlet your job provided. You saw coworkers, spoke to clients/customers, and generally spent 40 hours per week interacting with other people. You don’t want to go cold turkey and spend the days with just yourself or your partner after that. That’s why socializing is a key part of adjusting to retirement. Use these pointers to ensure you have enough human interactions and don’t feel isolated:
- Schedule social activities: plan a regular lunch with a friend or a group game night. Join a book club, get active at church or volunteer.
- Move to an active community: Senior living communities not only help you downsize but also socialize. Each week includes a full schedule of activities and programs.
- Keep active: fitness-related classes or clubs can help you stay in shape and in-contact with others. Join an exercise class, make a foursome for golf, find a friend to walk with, or learn ballroom dancing.
4. Consider Long Term Care
While it might not seem like it now, you could need additional support as you continue to transition into retirement.
Ensure that you speak to your family and loved ones about your long-term care plans. Look into a senior community that offers continuing levels of care to allow you to age in place. For example, at Vineyard Bluffton, we offer independent living, assisted living and memory care. So residents can stay in their same apartment and receive additional care as they (or their partner) need it.
What’s more, assisted living and memory care provides professionals to help with personal needs and household chores. This includes cooking, cleaning and laundry.
Enjoy this New Season While Adjusting to Retirement
Retirement is a time we look forward to our entire lives. Yet, it’s common for the initial satisfaction to give way to isolation, boredom or depression. Use these tips for retirement to ease into a happy, engaged and productive new chapter of your life.