One of the reasons we work so hard is so we can retire some day. Your retirement years can be a third of your life. However, many people spend more time planning a two-week vacation than they do for their own retirement. Everyone retires at some point so planning early is crucial.
It's a bad idea to retire and then ... start thinking about retirement. Don't walk away from your work thinking all will be great because it is a difficult adjustment for many. Take time to think about the pros and cons of walking out that door.
There are loads of options to consider for a successful retirement and it isn't all about money. Retirement is also about how you will spend your time. You can plan your own retirement lifestyle based on what you love to do.
Retirement can be a continuation of the old life, working on projects you never had time for before. It can also be perceived as a whole new life, a reinvention of yourself. To have a successful retirement, you must have some goals.
Here are six simple steps to help you get started:
* Define your retirement. How do you want to spend your time? Write down the five most important goals first. Be practical and rule out unnecessary expenses. Make sure all your financial needs are met as you brainstorm. The more specific and descriptive, the more tangible your retirement will be.
* Decide how much you want (or need) to work. Unless you are financially set for life, you may have to stretch limited money, give up some retirement dreams or stay in the workforce in some capacity. As you write down your retirement goals, take into consideration how much work will be necessary.
* Take stock of your nontraditional assets. Many talents can be turned into real income in your retirement years. Take the time to list all of your hobbies, skills, interests, and passions. After that, start thinking about how you can morph those into money-making endeavors if needed or desired.
* Deposit regularly. Your deposits to your retirement savings should be maximized, intentional and regular. Talk to your financial adviser about your options on future withdrawals and also for the best time to start collecting Social Security benefits.
* Practice a retirement budget. Before you actually retire, practice for at least six months living on the amount of retirement money you will receive. This could be an eye opening experience to help you know if the time is right or if you will need to supplement your retirement income with other work.
* Prepare for the unexpected. Putting money aside now means you won't pay later. Get debts paid off so your budget still allows some saving each month. How will you pay for car repairs? What would happen if there was an illness in the family? Do you have enough insurance? You should be prepared to handle these situations.
Retirement is one of the biggest events of your life so don't take it lightly. Proper planning and wise decisions can make it an everlasting reward.
Brad Larsen is a life coach and corporate consultant from Northern Utah. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org