Practice toward retirement while you are still working. In fact, a long, drawn-out transition to retirement could actually be part of your retirement plan. According to a new study by Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies and the Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement, 64% of U.S. workers expect to retire at age 65 or later or not at all.
Here are some moves to make that will help you ensure a smooth and not surprising transition to your golden years:
1. Take more weeks of vacation.
The top retirement goal is to travel. Why wait? Even if you don't have time to take a 24-hour flight to New Zealand and back, check out the U.S.A. You can get halfway across the country in a day. Go swim in the waters off the Florida Keys, take a raft down the Grand Canyon, visit the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, or take a hike on the red rocks in southern Utah.
2. Change your work hours.
Even if you think your company won’t be open to a flexible, remote, or part-time schedule, you never know until you ask. The New Flexible Retirement study found that 25% of people 55 and over reported that their employers allowed workers approaching retirement to switch from full-time to part-time schedules. You could be part of the lucky 1 in 4. If not, help make a case for it with your boss.
3. Spend four seasons in your retirement destination.
A retirement move to the beach, the mountains, or the desert might sound wonderful, until you move there and realize you miss four separate seasons. It's much different living in a tourist destination full time than vacationing there. Instead of just spending prime times at your retirement dream spot, go in the off-season and see if you like it. Do you love the desert? Go to Arizona in July. Talk to the locals about how they enjoy living there year round.
4. Make friends who are already retired and doing activities you enjoy.
A strong social network is a key to happiness. Transition to retirement by making new friends who also enjoy your favorite activities.
Whether you are moving to a new location or staying in your current one, your social network may consist mainly of the people you spend the majority of your time with — your work buddies. When you retire, they will still be working, and your interests will change. Consider that it takes some time to make good friends — deep friendships aren’t made overnight. Instead of waiting until you retire to make new friends, start making new connections now.
5. Rekindle old hobbies or start new ones.
What did you love to do as a kid but haven’t had time for as an adult? What have you always wanted to try? Some hobbies require start-up expenses in equipment and lessons. It might be a good idea to make that financial commitment while you have a higher salary.
6. Go ahead and move.
If you are among the majority of Americans who plan on working until age 65 or longer, and you want to make a change in location, consider planning the move now. This gives you more years to enjoy the place you love, set some roots, and make new friends.
Great jobs in highly popular destinations are hard to come by, but not impossible. If your company has an office in a location near your retirement dream spot, ask for a transfer. Is your company open to you working remotely? Ask for a work-from-home solution.
7. If you are staying in your home, make expensive repairs now.
Whether you plan a full remodel or an upgrade to new appliances, consider starting your project now. You might have more time when you retire, but your mindset may change. You never know, you may find that psychologically you don't want to spend your lump sum, even if you have a huge surplus in your retirement plan. Either earmark your “remodel dollars” in a separate account, or do the project now while you have a steady income stream from wages.
8. Live on your retirement income.
If your retirement plan involves living on 70% or 80% of your current income, test it out now. Could you live on less and enjoy retirement? You don’t really know until you try. Set up an automatic transfer from your checking to your savings that reduces your monthly spending money to mimic your retirement income.
9. Rekindle your most important relationships.
If you are married or in a long-term relationship and you both retire, you are going to be spending a lot of time together. Take some time now to work on that relationship. Start a weekly “date night” if you aren’t already doing so. Trade the responsibilities to plan your outings to keep things fresh. The same principle applies to your closest friends. Make plans with the people that enrich your life so you can have stronger bonds as you transition to a new phase.
10. Try something new every week.
Routines can be good. However, routines can turn into ruts. As people age, they may eat the same foods, go to the same vacation spot, or watch the same TV shows. Being open to new experiences can help people of any age adapt to change. Consider trying something new every week as you transition to retirement. This could be a new culinary experience, a new hobby, or something as simple as watching a movie from a genre you wouldn’t normally choose.
You never know what wonderful experiences lay ahead of you. A little planning can help you to be better prepared to enjoy them.