Here is an article I wrote about planning for retirement.
As we enter fall, we are entering the time of harvest.
In the spring, we planted. In the summer, we cultivated. In the fall, we harvest. In the winter, we will enjoy the fruit of our labor.
What happens in nature is a great analogy for the steps we take in preparing for retirement. Depending on your age and where you are in your career, you could be in spring, summer, fall or winter. It is during the winter, or our retirement, that we enjoy the ultimate fruit of our financial labor.
As they say, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” Still, when it comes to your retirement, you must plan. In retirement, my desire for myself and for you is that we are able to enjoy the fruit of our long years of employment and retire in comfort (with all of our needs met) and in style with (with some of our wants met).
AARP has an article that suggest 10 things to do when planning for retirement.
Define Your Retirement
AARP recommends writing down your top five objectives and being specific and realistic. So instead of writing down “travel,” write down “travel to Cairo, Jerusalem and Casablanca.” Instead of writing down “volunteer,” write down “volunteer at the neighborhood foodbank.”
Take Stock of Your ‘Assets’
Focus on traditional assets, but the article also suggests thinking about talents and skills you can use for extra income in retirement. For example, teaching piano, giving singing lessons and writing/editing.
Evaluate Your Health — Now
One thing we rarely think about in planning for retirement is investing in our health, now. The quality of your health will have a major impact on your retirement. Make sure you are going to your checkups and exams now. Eat right, exercise and get enough rest. Also, don’t forget your mental health. Stay sharp by reading, playing games and doing puzzles.
Determine When to Collect Social Security
They give a hint that later is better, and they have a social security benefits calculator on their website. Social security is a crap shoot that I assume will be there. I also assume that the benefit will kick in later in life.
Network Through Social Media and Other Methods
Having a strong community is so important as is networking. Be sure to connect with people who have similar interests. It is also a way to keep your mind fresh and could provide a way for you to find ways to volunteer your time.
Decide How Much You Want (or Need) to Work
This is why having a financial planner can be beneficial. You can set goals that will have you on track to retire when you choose and you can calculate different scenarios. For example, an early retirement from corporate America into a job that pays less but is more rewarding. But since you have planned, you will be all set when you retire.
Create a Retirement Budget
The budget needs to include your income streams, your expenses and factor in any debt. Having your mortgage paid off could be huge.
Find New Ways to Cut Your Expenses (Start Saving More)
Keeping your expenses to a minimum is always a good habit. Balance living today with preparing for tomorrow. Perhaps you could get rid of your cable bill and use a cheaper alternative.
Prepare for the Unexpected
Many people have higher health costs than they expect when they retire. Keep that in mind as you are planning. If you own a home, be mindful of costly, reoccurring expenses like roof and siding replacement.
Stick to Your Plan
You have worked hard. You deserve to enjoy your retirement!