Survivors Guide for Retirement

Some plan for their retirement, others ease into it, and some are forced into it.

Be a retirement survivor and keep your torch burning with this checklist.

Define it

You've probably fantasized about retirement all your working life. But very few of us have taken the time to clearly envision and write down what our retirement will look like:

  • Keep a notebook with goals and ideas.

  • Refine and prioritize them over time.

  • Be specific (visit Italy; take the grandchildren to Disney World before they turn ten).

  • Limit to five goals, but amend them as time goes on.

Talk about it

If you are retiring as part of a couple, open the lines of communication about your plans for retirement. If you have children, let them in on your plans:

  • Talk with your family. Their idea of retirement may be quite different than yours.

  • Topics of discussion: what will your retirement look like? When will it happen? Will you stop working completely or phase work out? Will parents live with you during retirement?

  • Determine some boundaries around independence and couple time.

  • Discuss living arrangements and who will be a caregiver when it is needed. Is everyone on board with those arrangements?

Find a focus

There's a misconception that retirement is all just golf and wine tours. While retirees certainly enjoy their leisure time, those who really feel energized tend to find a focus and a passion and pursue it:

  • Volunteer for an organization you believe in, start a business you've always dreamt about, or take a course to learn a new skill

  • Put a concrete plan in place to do it – determine how much you will need to save for tuition, learn how to set up a website, or set a timeline for launching a business.

Estimate how much you will need

Now that you are armed with a picture of your retirement, you can get to work on a realistic budget:

  • Decide when you would like to retire.

  • Create a plan for building your nest egg; you may want to work with a financial professional.

  • Your savings should bring in enough investment income to keep you afloat during retirement.

Get Fit

Being physically fit during retirement, so that you can enjoy your time and activities, is key:

  • Anything from walking, to the gym, to golfing, can help to keep you active and fit so that you can fully take advantage of everything that retirement has to offer.

Create a social network

Once you retire, you may lose the network of support you are accustomed to, which could lead to depression in some cases.

  • Just because you are no longer working doesn’t mean you can’t put your skills and knowledge to good use. Consider mentoring others who can benefit from your experience.

  • Volunteer, use social media to find clubs, or locate social events in your area,

  • Create a routine and structure that includes time for family and friends.

Make a Will and a Power of Attorney

It may feel uncomfortable but it is crucial to determine how you and your family want your estate settled:

  • Decide how you want to pass on your wealth after you're gone.

  • Use Wills and Power of Attorney to make your wishes known to your family.

No one is an island – get professional help

Just as you would consult a trainer to help you get fit, working with a financial professional could get you into financial shape. Together you can:

  • Set life and financial goals and priorities for now and for retirement.

  • Create a plan with concrete steps to get your money working for you over time.

  • Determine the amount of risk you can comfortably take.

  • Develop a strategy to minimize your taxes in retirement years as you begin to withdraw the funds from your accounts or sell your assets.

  • Formulate you estate planning.

Meghan MacDonald, CIM® is an Investment Advisor with the MacDonald Wealth Group.


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