When the financial crisis in 2008 ravaged retirement accounts far and wide, I had friends who realized exiting the workforce was no longer in the cards so they delayed it for a while longer.
They still had adequate savings, but they felt waiting was the right choice.
When they envisioned their “happy retirement” it never took place during such a gloomy and doomed setting in their minds. They expected spending happy days with their grandchildren, traveling throughout Europe without a care in the world, and even buying a modest vacation home to enjoy with friends and family.
After realizing their dreams just weren’t possible with the current conditions, they inevitably decided to push their retirement to a future date.
This happens to people all the time. Chip and Mimi are just like millions of others in the same situation.
Are you truly seeking a happy retirement? We have 15 retirement tips to help turn your dream into reality.
Tips on Retiring The Right Way
Tip #1: Get Your Spending Under Control
If you intend to outlive your money, this step is critical to your success. Even more important, learning this skill of keeping your spending in check is an absolute must when first starting out on your retirement journey.
At this stage a person or couple will look over their retirement portfolio, see that they have plenty of money to get by for another 20 years or more. But you have to be frugal and protect your savings.
Thinking of retirement as a lifelong vacation is nice but it isn’t really practical. Sure, you might not have to work any longer, but you can’t spend money like every day is a vacation because you’ll go broke faster than you can say, “We need to rob a bank!”
Keep an eye on health and personal insurance costs because they tend to get out of hand. Supplement your insurance with a Medicare supplement known as Medigap plans to keep costs down.
Unless money truly is no object, you’ll need to budget and keep a tight leash on your spending. Remember to keep living within your means and although tempting, don’t buy anything too extravagant unless you can afford it. If fact, getting a handle on money management now is the most important thing you’ll do for the rest of your life to stay comfortable in retirement.
Tip #2: Family Time is Important
Remember when your kids were still young? It was a wonderful time that many retirees wish they had back again. While it was happening, work and household responsibilities kept you from spending quality time with the kids in check and there’s no way to go back in time for a do over.
Guess what? In retirement you have a chance to do things differently. You can and should spend more time with your children and grandchildren.
Let’s face it. Your kids are just as busy now as adults as you were when they were young and growing up and they can really use your help. So, volunteer to babysit the grandkids as often as possible. You’ll cherish this time with them and savor every moment.
The friends I referenced understand the value of spending time with their loved ones. They have 2 grandkids and more on the way and happily watch and care for them whenever they’re needed. It brings so much additional joy and meaning to their lives in retirement. It’s truly a blessing.
Tip #3: Don’t Forget About Paying Taxes
Plenty of retirees have saved tax deferred money for their retirement. So, when they begin withdrawing from their retirement accounts, they’ll need to pay income tax to the IRS. It’s important to properly manage your withdrawals to keep your tax liability to a minimum.
It’s critical to keep this at the forefront of your mind during early retirement. And this is particularly important if you still generate income from a part time job or a business. The more additional money being earned from outside sources, the less you should withdraw from your retirement accounts.
This way, you’ll continue to delay your tax deferrals until a time when you actually need to use these funds. This may seem counterintuitive to some of you, but some retirees have so many sources of income that they make more money later in life than they did during their working years.
So keep these taxes in mind when you retire. For most people, they will not have addition income to fall back on, so budgeting properly and estimating taxes properly is necessary to make your money last as long as possible after you no longer generate a steady paycheck.
Tip #4: Stay Sharp and Active with a Part Time Job
Getting a part time job is great whether you need extra money or not. It helps you stay sharp, focused, and active in your later years. It also helps you remain socially active as well.
Most of us look at our jobs as a way to earn a living. We often overlook the strong social ties in this activity. It gives us a sense of community and a sense of belonging to something greater than ourselves.
Most of us have cultivated friendships with our coworkers during our working years. What’s to stop you from making new friends at a part time job in retirement? Remember, working doesn’t always have to be about the money.
Depending on when you retire, you may still have decades of life to enjoy and experience in the future. A purposeful and social activity like a part time job is a great way to still feel needed, wanted, and valuable and you can even develop new friendships that you’ll cherish for the rest of your days.
Remember, life doesn’t end just because you’ve retired.
Tip #5: Long Term Care Insurance
Nobody really wants to think about needing long term care, but it’s necessary because people are living longer than ever so the odds of needing help later in life have increased.
You best bet for long term care insurance is to get it early while you’re still healthy. It will be inexpensive at this point. You’ll get access to excellent benefits at a low cost when it’s needed the most.
Tip #6: Have All of Your Estate Planning Ducks in a Row
Have you avoided estate planning thus far? Now that retirement is quickly approaching it’s something you can no longer avoid. This is even truer if you own real estate and your retirement assets are substantial. It’s necessary to plan ahead via estate planning to guarantee your estate smoothly transitions to your beneficiaries upon your passing.
A last will and testament isn’t enough. Estate planning creates a blueprint for the division of your estate and leaves no stone unturned. It also sets aside financial resources and keeps them in place just in case they’re needed.
As an example, your estate might need to pay income taxes in certain scenarios. If this liability is going to be large enough, you might consider a life insurance policy large enough to cover this expense and allow your family and loved ones to still get access to the entirety of your estate.
Tip #7: Create a Monthly Budget
Most people would practically kill to be able to spend willy nilly during their retirement years but for the wide majority of us this isn’t the case. We have to plan and budget our money so it stretches throughout our retirement. Without one, you’ll likely spend your savings too fast and wake up broke with no financial prospects one day. So you need this cash to last.
While planning for retirement, you need to focus on lowering your cost of living once you get older as well as put a savings plan in place. If you have a mortgage on your home, pay it off if possible. Are you in credit card debt? Get rid of it. Make every effort possible to eliminate your debts and lower your expenses.
You’ll absolutely have to manage your money and follow a budget still even with this expenses cutting effort. You’ll have too much extra time on your hands and if you aren’t careful you could blow through you savings in no time unless you create and stick to a monthly budget.
Tip #8: Hire a Financial Advisor if Needed
Do you have your financial house in order? Are you good with curbing your spending and managing your money? If so, you may be a rare bird indeed who does not need the help of a financial advisor. Everyone else should consider hiring an expert to manage their retirement portfolio.
Paying a professional to manage your finances allow someone to look at your situation from a long view, fully observe what’s going on, and put together strategies to help improve your retirement investing options. These strategies are typically different from what the average person is aware of.
As you age, you’ll discover that you are not as patient as you used to be and your ability to understand difficult financial vehicles isn’t as comprehensive. So create a good relationship with an excellent financial advisor now so they can help you get your finances on the right foot before it’s too late.
Tip #9: Put Some of Your Money in an Annuity
For some reason, people believe that they must have every penny they own invested in real estate, stocks, gold, or any other investment vehicle. But it’s also wise to put a portion of your money in a safe fixed income investment like an annuity. This allows you to keep a consistent and sustainable cash flow even when the stock market or your other investment types are swinging wildly in one direction or another.
Remember, certain investments can be really risky. The stock market has been on a huge bull run for a lot of years now and it’s bound to correct itself soon enough. So your investments might take a hit for a while.
An annuity, on the other hand, can be a great insurance policy and protect your investment principle and preserve your income. You haven’t realized a loss unless you sell your stocks or investments. So use the money in your annuity instead and wait for the stock market to rebound before touching any of that money at a loss.
Tip #10: Use AssetLock on a Portion of Your Assets
Stock market investing definitely has its risks. And as you can imagine, retirement and risk do not necessarily go hand in hand. So, as a retiree still investing in stocks with your retirement portfolio, a stock market crash could be devastating to your financial future. At the same time, this type of investing is still important and necessary because interest rates, bonds, and T-bills just don’t cut the mustard with their returns.
But how do you protect your portfolio from the next market crash? Believe it or not, the financial product AssetLock was designed specifically with this thought in mind. You’ll determine the amount of downside risk you’re willing to take and if the market ever crashes, it will basically trigger a stop loss that will sell off your entire portfolio.
So, if you’re only willing to lose anywhere from 5% to 20% of your entire portfolio, you can set the stop loss at the desired amount and preserve the rest of your capital without worrying about losing your entire nest egg. Even better, you can make adjustments at any time using a tablet, smart phone, or personal computer based on the current conditions of the market too.
At this point, losing 50% or more of your portfolio could seriously destroy your retirement. It would take years to recover from such a devastating loss. By putting AssetLock in place, you’ll preserve the majority of your portfolio during an economic downturn and still be able to live comfortably when working full-time is no longer an option.
Tip #11: Create a Bucket List
Most of us want to do or achieve certain things in our lives but we typically have to delay them because we need to work to pay the bills, save money, and lead a good life. But when you retire and time is no longer a major factor you’ll have plenty to achieve the things in life that you’ve blown off thus far.
Simply put, it’s time to make a bucket list. This list should be filled with things that you plan to accomplish before you die. Putting it in writing is a good idea for a couple of reasons that include:
- We tend to accomplish the things we take the time to write down.
- By writing it down on paper you are making it an important priority.
Checking things off your bucket list is incredibly pleasurable when you retire. So create this list early and you’ll have something to look forward to.
Tip #12: Continue to Learn New Things
We talked about how a part-time job can let you stay active later on in life. Learning provides the same opportunity. While working, we hardly have enough time to pursue some of our more important learning goals. We tend to push them to the side so we have enough time to earn a living. When you retire time is on your side so you can learn new things and work on projects that you’ve had to avoid up until now.
Do you want to master a new skill? Learning how to do it now as a retiree is definitely favorable. Maybe you wanted to become a writer, a painter, a gardener, or even learn a new language. With so much time on your hands now that you no longer work, you can plow headfirst into this task and become a master at one or many different things.
Tip #13: Keep an Emergency Fund Handy Even in Retirement
Similar to a budget, having an emergency fund is always a good idea whether you’re working or retired. You’re going to have emergencies once you’ve retired and things are going to go off the rails from time to time so having this fund available will make it possible to pay for things without dipping into your retirement savings.
It’s also important for taxes too.
By avoiding dipping into your retirement accounts to pay for unexpected emergencies, you’ll be able to push off the tax liability just a little bit longer. Instead, keep a well-stocked emergency fund just in case something goes wrong and you’ll have no trouble paying for these unexpected and certainly unwanted expenses.
Tip #14: Make Your Health Your #1 Priority
Commit right now to either maintaining your existing level of health or take it a step further and improve it. As you get older, you’ll truly begin to value your health and you’ll no longer take it for granted. If you want your retirement plans to come to fruition, you’ll need to remain healthy for as long as possible.
Do you exercise? If not, it’s time to begin an exercise program today. Meet with a doctor or a qualified medical practitioner to help you put a diet and exercise plan together to allow you to maintain good health into your later years.
Tip #15: Travel to Exotic Locations When You First Retire
Do you have any exotic travel plans? If so, you should tackle these plans to travel right away. You never know how long you’ll remain in great health so checking them off your bucket list early is always a smart idea. Choose out-of-the-way destinations to visit while you are young, strong, and healthy and you’ll truly reap the rewards of an amazing retirement and still get to relax at home knowing your finances are well cared for.
My Friends Happy Ending?
I’m proud to say the friends I’m talking about have retired. They had to wait five years just to be certain, but the husband loved his job anyway so it wasn’t a big deal. After running the numbers, he realized that retirement was definitely a possibility and finally hung up his hat and began to enjoy himself while happily unemployed.
Are you in the same boat? If so, it’s time to crunch the numbers and determine if retiring now is also a possibility. You’ll love spending time with your grandkids, traveling the world, and experiencing a much happier life. So take the plunge and remember to use the tips and tricks we’ve shared with you today to turn your dream into a reality.