So much of the conversation about planning for retirement is around finances — how much do you need to save? What forms of guaranteed income do you have? How do you budget for living and medical expenses? But there’s more to retirement than sitting at the kitchen table making budgets. Do you know how you want to live your retirement?
Here are four questions to ask yourself.
- Where do you want to live? While this question may seem basic, there are many layers and considerations when you’re figuring out where you want to live during retirement. The first is, obviously, location. Do you want to stay where you’re settled? Is being near family important to you? Do you enjoy the colder climates or would you prefer somewhere with some heat? Determining whether you’re moving, and if so, where, can mean totally different styles of retirement living. In addition, take into account any care options that you may need throughout your retirement. If you’re choosing to live in your own home, what informal or formal in-home care will you need? Would you prefer to live in a senior living community, where you get staff assistance and live with other retirees? Are you thinking about the possibility of needing long-term care, such as a skilled nursing facility? You have many different options when deciding your retirement living situation.
- Have you made a retirement wish-list? Allow yourself to ignore any limiting factors for a second and think of a few things that you dream of accomplishing during retirement. Would you like to travel to Europe? Or write a novel? Go white water rafting? Visit grandchildren at least once a month? Write everything down, no matter how doable (or not) it may seem. Even if you can’t accomplish everything on your wish list, having one gives you a good idea of how you want to spend your retirement. Plus, you may surprise yourself by accomplishing things you never thought were possible, as soon as you get it down on paper and start making a plan.
- What hobbies and interests do you want to pursue? Somewhat related to your retirement wish-list, you should catalog anything and everything you want to dig deeper into during retirement. Retirement is the perfect time to learn or master a hobby, such as picking up an instrument that you played during childhood, perfecting a craft such as painting, knitting, or woodworking, or spending time with a sport or outdoor activity. Always wanted to learn another language? Set aside space for classes, online learning, and discussion groups. Some people dream of being able to golf every day, and others just want some time to read through the books they’ve collected over the years. Whatever your interests, integrating them into your retirement living plan can help you visualize your retirement.
- Do you know the state of your physical and mental health? Once you’ve got a good idea of how you want to spend your retirement, it’s time to start getting down to brass tacks on how to accomplish your vision. Getting a complete picture of your physical and mental health, both currently as well as any conditions you may be at risk for as you age, is vital to laying out your plan for retirement living. If you have a family history of dementia or cancer, for example, you may want to focus on your wish list for the early years of retirement and set aside more money for health care later. Talk to your doctor about planning for retirement so you can be happy and comfortable.
While it’s important to have a good understanding of your finances going into retirement, it’s not all about the money. Don’t let worrying about financial planning get in the way of creating a plan for retirement living that you’ll enjoy — after all, retirement is just another stage of your life, and you should enjoy your life to its fullest.