Retiring Well - 7 Steps on How to Successfully Transition to the Second Half of Your Life
Retirement is, for many, that goal that we earnestly strive toward post turning 50. For those who are not fortunate enough to work a job that they absolutely love, it is the holy grail of their financial journey. Many people (sadly not all) correctly spend a reasonable amount of time trying to prepare themselves financially for retirement…however, whilst important, this is only half of the story…and one may suggest, the least important part of the retirement equation.
Throughout my time as a Financial Planner, I have seen people retire well, who never look back and live out a fabulous and meaningful retirement. There are also cases of people who retire and then ask the fateful questions…. "now what??”
This article is intended to provide some tips and advice that I have gleaned from clients, family members and friends, with the aim to help you make the transition into retirement well, and never look back!
1. Plan Beyond ‘the Trip’
The idea of a big overseas/domestic holiday is often one of the first things on the ‘retirement bucket list’. Indeed, it is a part of most people’s plan on what they would like to do each year in retirement. Often people’s dreams of travelling in retirement may take up 4 weeks of the year, 8 if you are lucky, and the task of how to fill the other 44-48 weeks of the year is where some people do come unstuck.
Planning that initial, or annual, holiday plan is certainly exciting, however I suggest that in the lead up to retirement, more time is spent on planning what you will be doing when you are not jet-setting around the country/world. Despite some people being quite content to spend 9 months of the year on the 'Queen Mary', most of us were not designed to be on a perpetual holiday…in no time at all, we desire to come home and that is when the ‘staring at the walls’ can begin if you do not have a plan.
2. Build a Routine
The idea of having unlimited time, and not having to travel to work at 7am each morning and get home at 7pm, seems beyond exciting….particularly during the long commutes to work in the decade leading up to the blissful day of retiring. This may be true for the first few months of retirement, then reality sets in.
In short, we were made to work to some form of a schedule. Certainly, allow yourself the first month or two for a holiday and to relax, but then get back to a routine. As dry as this sounds, it includes:
Setting your alarm for the same time each day, and where possible attempt to go to sleep at the same time each day. Our body-clock and overall health does appear to respond favourably to regular sleeping patterns.
Set a schedule for every week, with repeating entries. This can include things such as, golf on Tuesdays, swimming/gym on Thursdays, grocery shopping on Fridays, visiting family on Mondays etc…you get the idea.
3. Get Involved – Don’t keep your knowledge and talents to yourself!
Having retired, you may find yourself with significant more time available to you, and having amassed some serious knowledge and life-lessons, as well as technical expertise, this could be a perfect opportunity for you to give back.
Give some consideration to where your passion lies (this may have been buried somewhat over the past several decades due to your work pressures), and consider how you can get involved in these areas. Preferably, build this into your weekly routine in the step above. Whether that be volunteering at your church, the Children’s Hospital, the art gallery, Life Line, your local nature reserve….whatever it is that you have a passion for, you can bet that your enthusiasm and life-skills would be much appreciated!
4. Get Active
If you have been active throughout your working life, this may not be as much of a change for you, however if you have not spent time exercising whilst you have been busy at work, this is the perfect time to start.
Studies have shown that regular exercise will increase your energy levels, level of emotional well-being, provide future health benefits, not to mention that you may meet some new and interesting people in this new pursuit. One cautionary word, if you have not spent much time in physical activity before, it is prudent to have a quick chat with your GP so that he/she can help you with a plan that will not result in injury.
5. Spend some time playing!
Now may be an absolutely perfect time to develop some new hobbies. This could be through the point above (‘exercise’) or the point below (‘get creative’).
In any event, allow yourself to revisit what you were once interested in doing as a younger person, or something entirely new! Whether it be playing a sport (even competitively at the Masters level), playing cards (hopefully not gambling), or having regular social outings with friends (new or old), allow yourself the time to get out there and simply enjoy having fun!
6. Get Creative
This is the one area where I see people truly blossom, when they find a creative outlet. Perhaps you are like me, and consider that I could not paint a room let alone a canvas, creative outlets can be found in many varied and interesting ways.
Whether it be via oil and canvas, word-working, learning a musical instrument, gardening, writing….whatever it is, having the creative outlet will help create a balanced life which can be rewarding to you and those around you.
7. Keep an eye on your budget
Forgive me for sneaking this one in….however I am a Financial Planner after all. It is, in my mind, more critical now than ever before to run and stick to a budget. When working with clients in the retirement preparation phase where we complete budgets and model how their retirement will work and look, everyone is very happy with how things are looking.
All to common though, once retirement has been realised, the budget is laid to one side, and considerably larger spending takes over with reasons why this particular “one-off expense” is justified. When the once-off, unforeseen expenses happen on a regular basis (all with different labels and reasons), it can significantly erode your retirement future resulting in the ‘older you’ being significantly worse off due to the expenditure of the ‘present-day you’.
It is absolutely critical that a mindset shift occurs. Through your whole life, you have been in the ‘growing’ your wealth phase, and one-off purchases or daily purchases which amount over time, have been easy to justify. Whereas, in retirement, things are drastically different, and careful consideration needs to be given in your month to month spending, to ensure your funds (hopefully) outlast you and not the other way around. This is where a suitably qualified Financial Planner can be of great assistance. Not only do we work together in your retirement preparation, but we are also with you in retirement to regularly model and calculate your affairs, so you have significant advanced warning should things be going of course.
Financial Planning is not simply about helping people with money and investments…it is about equipping clients to go through different phases in life. At Adept Financial Planning, we would love to help you put in place a sound financial strategy to ensure you RETIRE WELL.
If this article has prompted any thoughts, you would like analysis to determine how you are tracking with your retirement planning, or if you are in retirement how you are progressing; please make contact with us for a complimentary initial consultation.
About the Author
Glenn Baker is a Certified Financial Planner, and the Senior Financial Planner and Principal of Adept Financial Planning Pty Ltd, a Corporate Authorised Representative of Capstone Financial Planning Pty Ltd (as of 02/08/2019), AFSL 223135, ABN 24 093 733 969.