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Retirement Planning: Take The First Small Dip Now

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Planning for your retirement can be loaded with questions, concerns, anticipation and even excitement. But just as is the case with other major life plans, it’s best done understanding all the available options and, if possible, having a road map to get where you want to be. And chances are good that you’ll need to make minor adjustments along the way, but AMBA and your association are here to help navigate those waters. 

Fundamentally, retirement is about change. You’ll be changing many aspects of your life which, until retirement, has been mostly aimed at the everyday practical aspects of working since your 20s. It’s a big change. No one who has been working for 40-plus years should assume that retirement will be an easy flick of a light switch.

To lessen any potential shock to your system, start early if possible and practice this transition while you’re still working. Think of it as a trial run of your retirement life; perhaps living part of that retirement life a morsel at a time.

If you’re a schedule-oriented person, you can easily continue that method after transitioning to retirement. Create a new daily schedule from scratch, filled with hobbies and activities that mean the most to you and for which you’ve never had adequate time to sink your teeth fully into. Perhaps you haven’t had the time to really get into woodworking and amassing a proper workshop to build things. Well, now you can approach your builds as you approached work projects from your professional life, all of which require research, materials, schematics, labor and perhaps specific tools. The key difference is that your time is truly your own and you need not rely on others. (But always wear safety goggles!)

You also may choose to move to another location for retirement. If so, you must allow yourself time to learn the practical realities of that location like shopping, home services and a medical and support network. And, not least of all, plugging into a new group of friends. By spending blocks of time in that new location before retiring, you get to know much more about it in advance. And worst case, by living there for a couple of weeks at a time before retirement, you might learn (God forbid) that you actually don’t like it there. Far better to know this before you’ve already pulled the giant triggers on selling one house and buying another across the state or country.

This notion of practicing retirement beforehand is supported by a recent study. Here are some suggestions and thought-provokers to help make your transition to retirement as smooth as possible.

Increase your vacation time as you approach retirement

More Americans regret not traveling more over nearly any other vacation plan. Yet, there’s no reason to wait until retirement. Travelling farther obviously takes longer, but be honest with yourself about the potential downsides. If longer travel time to a vacation spot you’ve always fancied compromises a work project, then perhaps consider another location, or wait until retirement to visit that far-off land. However, ask yourself if that really matters and if your company or a work colleague can cover your day-to-day for that vacation.

Adjust your work hours

Recent studies like the above have shown that 1 in 4 people age 55 and over found that their employers allowed a change in work schedules, even if there was no provision for it in the company’s policies. And if a schedule change is something you really want, spend the time to prepare a complete case for allowing it. If your employer still doesn’t, you must of course accept it, but only then will you know you’ve done your level best.

If you plan to retire elsewhere, spend as many different seasons there as possible

Whether it’s in the mountains, at the beach, in the desert or on a remote island with no electricity and only carrier pigeons, know what you’re embarking on with a relocation retirement. Especially for destinations of high tourism, living there is very different from visiting. Do an off-season week or two and strike up discussions with locals on what it’s like year-round. Arizona in July and Montana in January are challenging prospects. Are you truly up for those?  

Become friends with people in your retirement location

Transition to retirement by making new friends before retiring who also enjoy your favorite activities. Your own strong social network is important to your long-term happiness. Chances are that your current social network is largely made up of work-related friends. If you relocate, those friends won’t be close by anymore. And even if you don’t relocate, those friends may not be retiring at the same time you are. Good friendships aren’t made overnight, so try to make new connections now with those people of your retirement future.

Whatever your eventual retirement plans, your association is here to provide social opportunities and comradery, plus support from partners like AMBA and its friendly experts ready to help with your insurance needs. Learn more on the association’s website and www.myambabenefits.info

sources:

Beth Brophy, How To Pick The Best Place To Retire, Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, retrieved from: https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T037-C000-S004-how-to-pick-the-best-place-to-retire.html

Nancy L. Anderson, 10 Things To Do Within 5 Years Of Retirement, Forbes, retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nancyanderson/2016/02/16/10-things-to-do-within-5-years-of-retirement/#3ac39f75251a 

Author unattributed, The New Flexible Retirement, Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, retrieved from: https://www.transamericacenter.org/docs/default-source/global-survey-2015/tcrs2016_pr_the_new_flexible_retirement_press_release.pdf

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