If you’re a baby boomer planning your retirement, you face a series of critical decisions that will influence your quality of life for the rest of your life. While these decisions may be hard to make, no one said it would be easy to be retired for 25 to 30 years. No one also said it would be a good idea to wing it.
To get the life you want in retirement, you need to define that life, then build the financial and social resources to support it. To get started, think about the answers to the following questions:
Who do you want to live or spend time with?
Think about who you want to see frequently, beyond the obvious answer of your spouse or partner. Do you have family or close friends that you’d like to see frequently without spending lots of time and money to do it? This question alone might dictate the general area you’ll want to live in, and even the specific home or community.
What will you do?
Will you work or volunteer? Do you have hobbies or interests that you want to pursue? Will you travel? Or go back to school?
Think beyond the vacation part of retirement, and consider what you’ll really do on a daily and weekly basis. This can help define the financial resources you’ll need to support the life you want
When will you retire?
The answer to this question can significantly influence your financial security for the rest of your life. Some people like their work, or they may need to work for financial reasons. Other people can’t wait to move on to the next phase of their lives. And some people desire a blend of working and not working where they still work but part time so they have more time to pursue their hobbies and interests. By balancing your financial and lifestyle reasons for retiring, you’ll be able to determine what the right age for you to retire should be. Don’t make the mistake of retiring too soon, before thoroughly analyzing your financial situation.
Where will you live?
You’ll want to be sure you’re close to your daily activities, particularly as you age in place and are less likely to tolerate lengthy drives or commutes. You may also want to downsize your house as a possible win-win solution that reduces your living expenses while also better meeting your needs in this next phase of your life. It’s well worth your time to analyze the general location to live in retirement, and as well as the specific home and community, that best meets your goals and circumstances.
Why (perhaps the second most important question)
For each of the above questions, you need to ask yourself why it’s important to you. To do that, there’s a good chance it will take some time for you to determine the why behind your answers to these questions — that’s only natural. That’s why you’ll want to start thinking about them well before you retire.
How (the most important retirement planning question)
Your answers to the “who-what-when-where-why” of retirement will be key to helping you develop strategies that address one last question: “How” will you afford to retire? What financial resources will you need?
The “how” of affording your retirement can be answering by learning to balance the “magic formula” for retirement income security: Income > Expenses
It’s your job to spend enough time now answering these questions and exploring your options. Devote the same focus and attention that you’ve been spending on your career — you won’t regret it, particularly when you reach your 80s and 90s and are still alive, kicking, and enjoying the life you planned.