What will life be like once you stop working full time? You may dream of traveling, spending months on your favorite activity or dedicating time and talent to charity. But how will it feel when that dream becomes reality? To find out, take a test drive.
With the typical retirement lasting 20 or 30 years, achieving your dreams can have a long-term impact on your life and finances. Whether you long to explore new places and opportunities, or just enjoy a different lifestyle, it is a good idea to gain some direct experience before you take a bold new direction. Focus on your retirement vision, try a few options for making it reality, and see how it feels to live the life you’ve always imagined. For example:
- Location, Location, Location
If you want to relocate in retirement, give yourself a chance to check out the places you might end up. In what type of climate and community do you want to live, and why? Does your choice relate to a particular activity or lifestyle? Plan a long vacation to each possible location and do your research. Talk to retirees beyond the tourist hangouts; explore what the area offers, and see if it’s right for you.
- Actively Engaged
So you dream of spending weeks on the golf course or tennis court, but how does that really feel? If you expect to play every day, set aside time and do just that for a couple of weeks. Look at the time commitment and financial aspect of each possibility you are considering. Pondering a new hobby for your retirement years? Take an evening class or spend some consistent time learning it now, to get a sense of how you may want to spend your time.
- Unstructured Time
Some people are delighted to be able to do whatever they choose, and when, every day. Others become bored without a regular routine and miss the camaraderie of a workplace. Practice living an unstructured life during a vacation at home and try to find the right mix of activity and relaxation that best suits you. If you find being busier is more suited to your personality, you may want to consider easing into retirement by gradually transitioning from full-time to part-time work before making a complete exit.
- Mutual Agreement
Having both spouses at home can be one of the biggest adjustments in retirement. Besides adapting to the challenges of daily living, it is important to discuss your dreams and plans with your partner and agree on your mutual direction. Work together to try out a few ideas. One way is take a stay-at-home vacation and pretend you are retired to see how you adapt.
- Living on a Budget
Living on a limited income is a profound change for many retirees, especially recognizing that it can be much less than their income during employment. Again, a practice run is a good way to understand the impact of this change. Try taking time off of work, staying at home and living how you would when retired. This time, use a journal to record your activities and financial commitments. Your financial representative can help you add up your available assets and calculate an expected monthly retirement income, so you can see what it is like to live at that level of spending.
If you expect to devote time to service projects or community groups, do a test drive before retirement to find the activity best for you. Practice in this area will help you determine which types of projects you enjoy and create connections for the future.
As with any new direction, the life changes you make during retirement can require some adjustment and the more you know ahead of time, the easier the change will be. Whatever you choose to do, your financial security plan will be the fuel for your dreams. Your financial representative can help you create and execute a plan today to deliver the future you envision.