5 Ways to Improve Retirement Readiness in Your 50s
You’re saving money, getting serious about financial planning, and monitoring your investment accounts. But retirement planning isn’t just about saving money: it’s about the habits and lifestyle you build ahead of your golden years.
Read on for 5 ways that you can start building retirement readiness here and now – and none of them have to do with your portfolio.
- Get serious about healthy living
You’ve heard this one before, of course, but it merits repeating.
Oftentimes, when life gets stressful the first things we toss aside are a healthy diet and exercise – but these should be the very last things to go. Taking care of yourself can pay dividends in all aspects of your life here and now, and it can even help you make better financial decisions.
But it’s not just about the present: living well today means a better chance at an enjoyable life tomorrow.
After all, what good is all your retirement planning effort if you can’t enjoy the benefits?
So speak to your physician today about the steps you could be taking to improve your lifestyle, and your quality of life. Whether it’s what you eat or how you move, every little investment you make in your health can pay dividends down the line.
- Focus on your spending habits
One tough issue that many new retirees face is spending and budgeting.
With more free time, it’s easy to spend more on hobbies, shopping, or even home maintenance. Yes, home maintenance: we have had more than one client get serious about their home after retiring – as our client Jeff put it, “I never noticed all this stuff till I was home all day!”
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But unfortunately, that extra spending doesn’t always align with the plan you had for your retirement budget.
To help mitigate this problem, it can help to start looking at your spending habits today.
- Where does your money go, and what’s likely to change between now and retirement?
- Are there areas where you’re under-investing (like those home repairs)? Would it make sense to tackle some of them before making the transition?
- What about large expenses like travel and experiences? How much do you devote to these areas now, and how would you want that to change once you retire?
For many retirees, the assumption that you’ll need less money in retirement isn’t always correct. People often come to us thinking that they’ll only need, say, 75% of their current income to get by, but after the first year or so in retirement it’s clear this might not be sustainable.
On the other hand, if you can develop firmer control of your spending habits now and find ways to reduce your financial needs, you’ll free up resources later.
That makes it more likely that you’ll be able to afford those unexpected home repairs, once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunities, and leisurely shopping trips.
- Update your estate plan
Many people in their 50s see their kids leaving the nest and their focus shifting to serious retirement planning. One issue that consistently gets overlooked in this effort is the humble estate plan.
That’s because it doesn’t feel very urgent. After all, you’ll have plenty of time to deal with wills, trusts, and healthcare proxy changes later, right?
However, now is actually a great time to tackle these issues. The reason for that is the same one you’re using to procrastinate: you have time.
The estate planning process covers nearly every aspect of your financial life. It gives you a chance to review your assets, insurance policies, and healthcare instructions. Because there’s no rush right now, you can give each one some extra thought.
Maybe you’ll decide, like many of our clients do, to put your family assets in a trust. Or perhaps upon reviewing your accounts and insurance policies you’ll discover redundant coverage, or even gaps in your coverage.
In other words, it might not seem pressing, but estate planning really is a cornerstone of your overall retirement plan. Start now, and do it right – and build an estate plan for the long haul.
- Clean out your garage
If you’ve ever helped an elderly parent move out of their home or dealt with the aftermath of death, you know just how much stuff can accumulate in our lives. Dealing with all that stuff when you’re already retired or, worse, elderly and frail is not usually the best way to go.
So think about clearing out your garage (or attic, or basement) sooner rather than later. All that stuff will need to be dealt with at some point, so you might as well control the process and get it over with.
Think about clearing away or donating what you can now. If you’re really ambitious, you can use that extra space to make room for a hobby or a retirement “office” space. This won’t just help you get rid of stuff, it’ll help you free up room for the life that you want to lead in retirement.
- Find something to love
Speaking of which, your 50s are also a great time to find new avenues for your mind, body, and spirit. That might mean finding a new sport, starting a new language, or developing a hobby or business venture.
Consider this a serious pursuit: many retirees feel a little lost once the scaffolding of their job and career is gone, and you can help to ease the transition by having something concrete to work on or do.
There are other important benefits as well: retirement can be a time of rapid cognitive decline – in other words, we can literally start losing our smarts. Keeping yourself mentally active, socially engaged, and interested will buffer you from that risk, helping to ensure a more satisfying future.
Are you on track for a financially secure retirement?
We do so much planning for retirement, but it’s hard to know whether we’ll actually get what we want out of it. That’s where stress testing your retirement plan comes in: with our free guide to testing your retirement readiness, you’ll get the scoop on your key retirement risks and learn how to assess the resilience of your retirement plans from multiple perspectives.
Download Stress Testing Your Retirement today, and make sure that your plans for retirement are on track!
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